Mr Sayina Rima, outgoing National President of Cocoa Association of Nigeria (CAN), has advocated investment of five per cent of oil revenue into cocoa production to develop the industry.
Rima made the appeal on a webinar by Ships and Ports on the topic: “Maximising the Gains of Nigeria’s Cocoa Export”. According to him, cocoa gave much to the country in the 1980s.
“For the country to be able to enhance the value of its cocoa export, production and consumption are key. We have a 10-year action plan that we want to present to the president. When we are through with our plan, everyone will be able to appreciate the efforts of the private sector to see to cocoa’s standing as an alternative for the country,” he said.
He listed some of the challenges of the cocoa industry as neglect, lack of finance, urban drift and low productivity.
He said that there was a need for adequate data of farmers and easy access to loans.
He said that bank loan repayment within 24 months was not conducive.
Mr Obiora Madu, Managing Director, Multimix Academy, said that neglect of cocoa production was affecting its export.
According to Madu, who is also an export consultant, Nigeria was the world’s second-largest producer of cocoa.
“However, after structural adjustment, things fell apart and this has led to the neglect of the industry,” he said.
He blamed the neglect on reliance on oil revenue.
“At present, the value of cocoa is like three per cent; the sad thing also is that the party is almost over. Each time oil price falls, we get agitated, so there is the need to diversify, and cocoa is an alternative. For as long as we keep exporting raw cocoa, we get peanuts from the market,” he said.
Also, Mr Ofon Udofia, Executive Secretary, Institute of Export Operations and Management, said that synergy among stakeholders, including farmers, processors and brokers, would help cocoa export to boom again.
Udofia, also the Chairman, Bayelsa and Rivers Shippers Association, said that the country’s ports needed to have an export bay where packaging should take place.
“There is a gap in cocoa export, so the government should partner with the private sector to bridge that gap. To enhance our cocoa export, the country could also produce chocolate and, in doing so, farmers should be certified, follow global standards and be trained. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected them drastically; people could not push their products for processing and countries were sceptical as regards packaging of products,” he said.
Mr Abimbola Salami, Deputy Director at the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), advised farmers to key into the council’s programme to be able to get the finance that would grow their businesses.
Mr Adams Jatto, General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Nigerian Ports Authority, said that cocoa export should be tapped into as a good alternative to crude oil.