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FTN Cocoa Processor records N1.171b turnover in 2008



Shareholders of FTN Cocoa Processors Plc, yesterday approved the proposal by the company's board to pay 3.5 kobo per share from a proposed N77 million dividend payment.

By the result presented at the yearly general meeting held in Lagos, the company's gross income rose from N483.7 million in 2007 to N1.171 billion in 2008, while its profit after tax stood at N196 million, against N142.7 million achieved in 2007.

The percentage increase in gross income is 142 per cent, while profit after tax rose by 37 per cent.

Reviewing the year's performance, the Chairman of the company, Mr. Olusegun Osunkeye told shareholders that despite the global meltdown that enveloped the world's economy, the company had a successful year of operations as it witnessed more local sales of cocoa products and palm kernel oil.

He however expressed worry over the government's inability to regulate cocoa processing industry in Nigeria, which he said, has given the local buying agents who serve as middle men the opportunity to influence the price of the raw cocoa beans.

He stressed that some exporters of raw cocoa beans have pushed the price of the commodity beyond what the local processors can afford as a raw material import, adding that this has posed enormous challenge to the company.

Osunkeye urged government to regulate cocoa processing industry as well as ensure that the N200 billion set aside to empower large scale farmers and agro-processing companies nationwide is extended to cocoa processors.

Access to the fund, he said would enhance the growth of the industry, grant them access to find single digit interest rate, accelerate the payment of export expansion and help to mitigate the high cost of running the business.

Osunkeye assured shareholders that the company would continue to deliver good returns on investment, which would be achieved through its plans to diversify to other products to boost turnover.

"As a foreign exchange earner for the country at a time when oil revenue is under threat, our sector will continue to use available medium to communicate with relevant agencies of government to promulgate policies that will provide a conducive environment for the Agro-Allied sector to operate and we will continue to support our capacity to return value to our shareholders," he added.

The Executive Director of the company, Mr. Akin Laoye admitted that the industry is facing enormous challenges in the country.

He said: "The cocoa industry market is not regulated in Nigeria as done in Ghana, Malaysia, Cote d'Ivoire and other countries, thereby giving all sorts of people access to come in and export the product. The percentage of consumption is also low as 80 per cent of what we produce is sold to other countries.

"Infrastructural problem is another challenge. We are more of less running independent power supply, which has impacted so much on our cost of sale. Government should ensure that the 7-point agenda is achieved, so that it would accelerate the growth of the industry."


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