NEPC said efforts are underway to partner with research and academic institutions to increase production and distribution of seedlings to farmers. Photo: CABOSSA
If Nigeria deploys measures to increase yield, land area under cultivation, quality of cocoa beans through new techniques in fermentation and sustainable farming, embrace organic certification, and target new markets, it might be able to increase production revenue of the commodity to $1.1 billion by 2025.
This was part of the recommendations made by a team of MBA students of (University of California at Los Angeles UCLA (USA), sponsored by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), to understudy the demand and supply situation of Nigerian cocoa in the U.S. market.
To achieve this target, the NEPC said efforts are underway to partner with research and academic institutions to increase production and distribution of seedlings to farmers, as well as deploy capacity building on improved processing to achieve premium cocoa for export.
Speaking during a technical session on value chain export development and quality conformity for cocoa in Ikom, Cross River State, the Executive Director/CEO NEPC, Olusegun Awolowo, mentioned that the training was part of the Cocoa Export Development Project Initiative being promoted by the Federal Government.
He said it is also in line with the government’s efforts to diversify Nigeria’s economic base, as well as the NEPC’s Zero-oil Plan initiative to grow non-oil exports.
Indeed, the technical session was conducted with the goal of increasing the quantity and quality of Nigerian cocoa geared at easing global market access.
Awolowo, represented by Afolabi Bello, said Nigerian cocoa is rated one of the best because of its flavour or aroma, and also the leading non-oil exportable product, but stagnated production and a decline in quality affected Nigeria’s global market share in cocoa trade.
Cocoa is among Nigeria’s leading agricultural exports and constitutes two per cent of its exports annually. It is the country‘s third largest export after crude petroleum, and liquefied natural gas, thus improved yield and quality will immensely help local industries.
Although Nigeria plays a leading role in the cocoa industry, covering 6.5% share of global production of cocoa, the NEPC had expressed worry, projecting a fall in exports of over $100 million in the domestic sector as a result of falling prices due to lower demand in Europe.
“Also, in efforts to increase Nigeria’s export of cocoa to the European market, the Council collaborated with the Centre for the Development of Imports from Developing Countries (CBI), in The Netherlands, to build capacity of some SME cocoa exporting companies through a one-year capacity building programme on market access.
“This programme resulted in the selection of four SME cocoa exporters, who travelled to Europe to meet with the European importers one-on-one in March 2018,” he added.
The Deputy Governor of Cross River, who was represented by the Special Adviser on Cocoa Development Project, Dr. Oscar Ofuka, stressed the need to improve capacity of local producers for increased export earnings.