The Ondo State Government on Friday said a modern chocolate factory to process premium quality cocoa beans produced in the state would begin production of chocolate bars by April 2016.
The Commissioner for Information, Hon. Kayode Akinmade, made the disclosure at a news conference in Akure on Friday.
He said the factory would utilise and process the facilities of the Cocoa Catalytic Factory in Idanre .
He added that the factory would be run by the state’s cocoa project foreign technical partner, Spagnvola Chocolatier of Spain, and would have the capacity to produce enough for local consumption and for export.
Akinmade explained that the partner visited the state last week, preparatory to the commencement of work at the factory.
On his part, Dr. Jibayo Oyebade, the Chairman, Ondo Cocoa Revolution project, said the state government had identified the Cocoa Catalytic factory at Idanre for the chocolate factory.
He said “our technical partner is an internationally recognised chocolate producer, which is an expert in the field.
“We intend to invite officials of the Ministry of Commerce to take inventory of the machines at the catalytic factory in Idanre.
“Already, there is a cocoa factory in Idanre that we can put in proper shape this year.”
Oyebade said chocolates made from cocoa beans had been declared one of the best in the world after testing at Switzerland, and was of immense health value for both the young and old.
“Having gone through the ailments chocolate can cure or ameliorate, I have personally identified more than 51 ailments peculiar or common to Africa and Africans.
“And since our partner uses natural sugar sourced from fruits and sugarcane, not synthetic sugar, you don’t have to worry about ailments from sugar.”
He explained that Governor Olusegun Mimiko planned to ensure that school children in the state start taking one bar of chocolate per week before leaving office.