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HomeNewsNigeria will hit 500,000MT cocoa production by 2024 – farmers

Nigeria will hit 500,000MT cocoa production by 2024 – farmers

The Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN) has expressed determination to meet the 500,000-tonne production of cocoa beans in the next two years and make the country to become the highest cocoa producer in West Africa in the next five years.

The target has necessitated training Nigerian cocoa farmers on responsible use of pesticides, child labour eradication, certification, traceability, deforestation, ecosystem and climate-smart practices and free distribution of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) handbooks to farmers.

The handbook, the association added, would make the country produce the best quality beans in line with internationally acceptable best practices.

The National President, Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN), Comrade Adeola Adegoke, said this while inaugurating the free distribution of the Cocoa GAP handbook to smallholder farmers in Ikom, Cross River State.

“However, the world cocoa production is about 5.0 million tonnes, of which Ghana and Ivory Coast produce 1.0 and 2.0 million tonnes respectively, with an average production of 800kg per hectare, while Nigeria is producing above 300,000 tonnes, with an average production of 350kg/400kg per hectare.”

“And it is very interesting that Ondo and Cross River States alone (like Ivory Coast and Ghana) contributed 60 per cent of the total cocoa beans produced in Nigeria,” Adegoke said.

He explained that producing and distributing the Cocoa GAP handbook free to farmers, in conjunction with the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), EBAFOSA, Harvest-field Industries Limited, Federal Ministry of Agricultural, the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and other stakeholders, contributions towards sustainability of cocoa supply and value chains in Nigeria.

“Cocoa,” he added, “is the singular commodity that gives the highest foreign exchange earnings, apart from crude oil, and provides incomes to more than two million cocoa-connected families.”

He said to enhance and push forward cocoa production from the current 300,000 metric tonnes plus and expand average productivity from the present 350/400kgs, the association participated in the 2020 CBN cocoa Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP), and about 1,222 cocoa farmers benefited across nine cocoa-producing states at N593,000 for three hectares of cocoa farm.

“We urge our beneficiaries of the ABP cocoa loan to finish up their repayment to avoid an embarrassment from the association and give room for new beneficiaries to access the loan,” Comrade Adegoke said.

He disclosed that the association was currently demanding a $400 Living Income Differential (LID) as being collected by Ghanaian and Ivory Coast cocoa farmers above their floor price farm gate for cocoa farmers of Nigeria.
He expressed the belief that the Cocoa GAP handbook would equip Nigerian cocoa farmers to comply with international best practices and due diligence needed in the sector to benefit from the LID.

“This book has taken care of the noticed gaps in our cocoa farming and provided our farmers with smart adaptation strategies to mitigate the challenges. The book is free and should not be sold. And, we’re preparing to distribute nothing fewer than 10,000 copies of the book per the major cocoa-producing state,” he said.

However, cocoa breeders and agronomists said to rev up cocoa productivity, catch up with Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire, and possibly surpass them, Nigeria has to break certain barriers.

Such production barriers include the availability of high-yielding varieties to replace older plantations and plant new ones, the use of fertiliser and standard agrochemicals, as well as maintaining maximum plant population per hectare.

A director at CRIN, Dr Olufemi Ibiremo, said for farmers to attain the target, they should plant improved seedlings, control weeds, prune the farms, an maintain a plant population of 1,100 trees per hectare.

He categorically said that cashew nuts produced in Oyo State are purchased and smuggled to

Benin Republic, Togo and other countries, while the production figures are attributed to those countries.

From Cross River and Taraba States, he added, cocoa beans are smuggled to Cameroun, and the quantity is attributed to Cameroun, not Nigeria. Hence, Ibiremo called on the Federal Government to protect the borders not only for security but also economic reasons.

On improved cocoa seedlings, he advised local, state and federal governments to partner with CRIN to make them available for farmers to rejuvenate older plantations and cultivate new ones.

Also, low use of fertiliser, insecticides, fungicides and pesticides has affected productivity and production, hence, should be addressed.

An agricultural scientist and former provost of the Kabba College of Agriculture, Dr Akin Oloniruha, the government at all levels have critical roles to play in the cultivation of newer varieties, coordination of cocoa sub-sector, investments, value chain and marketing.

He said farmers and cocoa industry stakeholders are more coordinated in Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire, accounting for their success in productivity and foreign exchange earnings through cocoa bean and product exports.

The Guardian