The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is to join the Federation of Agriculture Commodity Association of Nigeria (FACAN) to raise cocoa production to 1.2 metric tonnes yearly.
FACAN President, Dr Victor Iyama told The Nation that the Minister, Chief Audu Ogbeh, at a meeting with the group in Abuja promised to give out free seedlings to enhance cocoa production.
Iyama said the Minister expressed concern that Nigeria with its size has not been able to produce more than 200,000 metric tonnes of cocoa a year.This was disappointing compared to Ghana that produce one million tonnes of cocoa.
To reverse this, Iyama said the Federation was in support of the government resolve to increase annual output of the commodity within the next couple of years.
He urged the government to support FACAN campaign to train farmers on best agronomic practices, assist them to rehabilitate their farms, renew farms through complete seedlings replanting or canopy substitution through grafting of aged trees.
Added to these, Iyama, mentioned is the retaining of input – fertilizsers, herbicides, tools and irrigation system.
He spoke of the need to ensure a more productive and sustainable cocoa sector – free from poverty and human rights issues, if the nation was to continue to supply more cocoa beans and to remain competitive in the global market.
FACAN, he said, was ready to provide practical guidance by teaching farming practices that will lead to higher yields, offering entrepreneurial ideas for the non-harvesting season to insure year-round earnings.
Meanwhile, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO) have repositioned themselves to boost business opportunities in Africa’s cocoa sector, including youth employment and empowering women participation.
The two institutions met in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, to strategise for cooperation to foster the transformation of the cocoa industry in Africa. A statement said cocoa is one of the five Cs (cocoa, coffee, cotton, cassava and cashew) that have been selected for support under AfDB’s new Agriculture and Agri-business Draft Strategy. Africa produces 73 per cent of world cocoa, with more than 70 per cent coming from Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon and Nigeria.
It is a major export earner, yet its production is still in the hands of ageing smallhold farmers with more than 70 per cent productivity losses as a result of numerous challenges.
The statement noted that the processing and market are in the hands of foreign investors.
Credit: The Nation