By Magnus Effiong
Cross River State commissioner for commerce and industry, Mr Peter Akam Egba, has disclosed that the State Pharmaceutical Company, Calapharm, would soon begin production of drugs and vaccine to tackle the menace of deadly diseases such as meningitis and lassa fever thereby stopping importation of drugs for such ailments.
The Commissioner, who made the disclosure while taking Journalists round the State Industrial Park, along Goodluck Jonathan Bypass, which houses the Calabar Pharmaceutical Company, the Garment Factory and the Calabar Rice City currently under construction by the Ayade-led administration, described Calapharm as the first of its kind in the country.
Flanked by Commissioner for information, Pastor Rosemary Archibong, Egba said, “the drugs will be produced locally. This is a gigantic project. We have the laboratories where the drugs will pass through all scientific processes; we have department in which packaging will be done. The idea behind this project is to basically reduce, if not eliminate, importation of drugs into Nigeria.”
On the rice city project, Egba said the State government was in collaboration with companies and experts in Thailand for technology which would multiply improved rice seedlings production.
He said, “the difference between us and other States which are into rice production is that ours is more digitalized particularly with this type of facilities on ground. The technology is that hybrid seedlings are planted in such a way that you could fold it like rug carpet, take it to your farm and spread.
“As you can see, the Calabar Industrial Park is an area in which infrastructures are provided in terms of the road network, electricity, water, drainages, security post and a fire station. With all these, when an investor comes around to build a factory, you don’t need to struggle for those things again. These are advantages that factories in EPZ are enjoying, including waivers in taxation. The factories that are going to be established in this industrial park are going to enjoy all these facilities.”
Also speaking, Pastor Archibong explained that the area would be a beehive of industrial activities as investors are scrambling to relocate their industries and businesses to Calabar due to enabling environment provided by the State government.
She said the digitalized rice city laboratory will help Nigeria dethrone Thailand and become highest rice producer in the world, adding that research work on improved seedlings would take place in the rice city after which the improved species are sent for planting in rice farms.
“We are not going into the traditional rice farming but digitalized mechanized farming which is faster and more internationally accepted that will put us in the same pedestrian and even higher than Thailand,” Pastor Archibong stated.
On how to source for raw materials for the pharmaceutical company, Pakistani Managing Director of Calapharm, Farhan Ahmad Khan, said, “for now, the raw materials which will feed the industry will be imported because Nigeria does not have most of the chemicals to use in producing the drugs. We will import the chemical but we will do all the medical works and packaging here
“Our main focus is on mother and child health. We will launch the pharmaceutical company with 40 products initially. We will produce syrups, tablets, syringes and injections. One thing that is not produced in Nigeria is vaccine, which we in Calapharm will produce next year.
“We are seeking to complement AyadeCare programme with quality medicine, and this will boost economy of Cross River state. The cost of the drugs will be such that all Cross Riverians will be able to afford. We will be producing drugs of World Health Organisation (WHO) standards.
“We believe that by next month, Calapharm should be commissioned, machines are already here. You can see that the flooring inside is almost completed. We are just hoping that in another 22 to 30 days, we will complete the construction so that we can bring the machines inside.”