The Federal Government has said that the country earned N122.89 billion from the export of raw cocoa beans and cocoa products in the first quarter of 2022 in the country.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Muhammed Abubakar, disclosed this, yesterday, in Akure, the Ondo State capital, at the first National Cocoa Festival, tagged: “Stakeholders’ Collaboration To Make Nigeria Cocoa Industry Sustainable.”
He said: “It is now obvious that Nigeria cannot continue to rely on crude oil to develop economically, going by the instability of crude oil prices due to the Russian-Ukraine war.”
He reiterated the need for Federal Government’s commitment to supporting the agricultural sector to diversify the economy, especially in the area of increase in cocoa production.
According to him, diversification is no longer a myth but a reality, which will ensure that Nigeria regains its position as one of the highest cocoa producing countries in the world.
Abubakar, who was represented by the ministry’s South-West Zonal Director, Mrs. Omolara Abimbola-Oguntuyi, maintained that agriculture holds the key to the collective survival as a people, both in terms of job creation, income generation, food and nutritional security, as well as foreign exchange earnings.
Meanwhile, the President of Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN), Mr. Adeola Adegoke, said the association would soon start enumeration/bio-data collection of all cocoa famers in Nigeria.
Adegoke said this task would be done in collaboration with the cocoa value-chain stakeholders across the cocoa producing states and cocoa communities’ traditional leaders.
According to him, this would enable the investors, policy-makers and other relevant stakeholders to know all the information they need about their cocoa beans, cocoa plantation environment, inputs/GAP and activities in cocoa plantations.
He, therefore, urged all beneficiaries of the bank loans provided for producing cocoa states to repay their loan fully without any further delay to sustain the CBN and other financial partners’ support for cocoa production sub-sector.
The CFAN President said this was the only way to guarantee the continuity of such programmes and to sustain support to the cocoa industry.
Ondo State Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, who also spoke at the event, said the state government would continue to provide enabling environment for businesses to strive in the state.
Akeredolu, who was represented by his Senior Special Assistant on Agric and Agribusiness, Akin Olotu, urged the stakeholders across the states to support cocoa production in the country.
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi, who was decorated as the Grand Patron of Cocoa Famers Association of Nigeria, said that to make Nigeria’s cocoa industry sustainable, all cocoa-producing states must contribute to the development of cocoa production in the country.