Nigeria’s cocoa output hurt by policy flip-flop, inadequate research funding
Nigeria’s cocoa output is badly hurt by government policy flip-flop and inadequate research funding which have seen the country lost its position in global cocoa production.
This was made known in a communiqué issued at the end of the first International Cocoa Summit held in Abuja recently.
“The various challenges that hinder the output of Nigeria’s cocoa production includes inconsistency in government policies, inadequate funding of Research and Development,” the communiqué said.
The country’s cocoa production has dropped from 248,000 metric tonnes (MT) to 190,000mt, forcing investors and farmers to demand huge investment in the sector, according to latest data from International Cocoa Production.
Similarly, aging farmers, industrial infrastructural deficit, low and inadequate capacity and technical know- how of the farmers, lack of synergy among the key regulatory and quality control agencies and the stringent measures for accessing finance for players in the industry remain gridlocks to the sector.
Cocoa is Nigeria flagship export crop, occupying up to 25 percent of the total non-oil export value each year.
Long years of disinvestment and the inability of Africa’s most populous nation to sustain and improve its production of cocoa over the years have led to a sharp decline in productivity to below 0.350 ton per hectare, when other leading countries such as Ivory Coast produce between two to five per hectare of improved variety.
According to industry sources, the country currently produces less than 500kg dry bean per hectare which is very low when compared to other cocoa producing countries.
Despite the huge challenges in the country’s cocoa industry, the communiqué revealed that the industry still possess tremendous prospects and opportunity.
“There are tremendous prospects and opportunities in the cocoa industry which include availability of vast arable land, increase in the export of cocoa especially with emerging markets in Eastern Europe and Asia,” state the communiqué.
“Annual consumption of 2.8 million tons of cocoa across the globe, gradual increase in consumption of cocoa and its by-products in producing countries, governments renewed interest, involvement and intervention measures,” the document added.
Other prospects according to the communiqué includes more involvement and intervention measures, increased awareness of the health benefits of cocoa consumption and exportation of over 90 per cent of Cocoa and Cocoa products produced in Nigeria.
The document further revealed that Nigeria is not comfortable with its current position in regional and global cocoa affairs resulting to the resolve that Nigeria must improve from the present 7th position globally to at least 3rd in the next five years.
The communiqué recommended the need to establish a central coordination unit for cocoa development, make cocoa business lucrative by providing basic infrastructure such as power, rural road network, water and linkage to inputs source among others.
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