At the 1st International Cocoa Conference, in Ibadan, Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture, Akinwumi Adesina disclosed that the country will double its cocoa production from 250,000 to 500,000 metric tonnes by 2015 by distributing 3.6 million hybrid cocoa pods, which were developed by Nigerian researchers, to cocoa farmers in the country.
Represented by Talabi Odeyemi, a Director in the Ministry, the Minister stated that the objectives would lead to the cultivation of 114,000 hectares of cocoa.
He, however, called on the country’s private sector to partner with the government in exploring the opportunities in cocoa production so that Nigeria can be a major global player in international cocoa business. Nigeria is seeking to expand its capacity beyond oil exportation.
First bank of Nigeria (FBN), the sponsor of the conference, was commended by the Ministry for partnering with the government in its plan to revive the lost glory of cocoa in the country.
Meanwhile, the President of Cocoa Association of Nigeria (CAN), Mr Sayina Riman, who said that the vision of his association was to initiate a robust “bean-to-bar database of the cocoa economy; ’’ said that “In a networked and global economy where traceability has become a major determinant for service delivery provision, policy making and customer experience, we cannot and must not continue to operate in the dark.
“It is indeed an embarrassment that we have different accounts or sources of the cocoa output in Nigeria; embarrassing the even more that we do not know for sure how many producers are actively involved in production, indeed, how many are sharecroppers, lien croppers, tenants etc and indeed how many farmlands are under active cultivation and by what farmer, ” he added.
In recent times, Nigerian government has began to subsidise fertilizers for farmers, strengthen industry regulation to boost volumes and distribute chemicals to fight disease.
The volumes of beans produced had stayed between 200,000-250,000 tonnes over the past three years, Cocoa Processors Association of Nigeria (COPAN) secretary Felix Oladunjoye told reuters last month.
Nigeria, the world’s fourth biggest cocoa grower, was processing around 230,000 tonnes in 1986 when the sector was first deregulated.