Agric stakeholders have decried the current failure of the country to exploit the untapped $493 million potential in cocoa industry.

The National Coordinator, LUGAVO and Women Leader, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Halima Njobdi, in a chat with this newspaper, explained that Nigeria was not doing enough to shore up its cocoa production as well as boost its global cocoa presence.

Njobdi blamed the Federal Government and other agric agencies for the $493 million deficit in the industry.

According to her, Nigeria is blessed with huge deposit of cocoa, which could catapult the country’s non-oil sector.

The AFAN chairperson noted that government policies in the agric sector were part of the reasons responsible for the failure in the sector.

She explained that with the amount of cocoa deposit running into billions of naira, there is need for the Federal Government to unveil friendly policies to check the lapses.
She said aggressive production of cocoa would enable Nigeria leapfrog from its current position on the global stage.

The LUGAVO founder rued the country’s relegation to the seventh position among cocoa producers in the world, noting that inability of the country to meet her cocoa export target was costing the economy $1 billion yearly in revenue loss.

She noted that of late, Nigeria had been struggling to meet her 500,000 metric tons (mt) of processed cocoa production target for export.

To her, cocoa producers are facing turbulent challenges in the sector, adding that this is the reason the country is unable to meet its production target set by the International Cocoa Organisation.

Also confirming the country’s $493 million untapped cocoa potential, the General Manager, British American Tobacco Nigeria (BATN) Foundation, Ololade Johnson-Agiri, said it was worrisome to see that the country had abundant cocoa crops, while processing it for export has been a problem.
She noted that the foundation was working with the Bank of Agriculture to ensure that Nigerian farmers aggressively develop the country’s cocoa production.

It will be recalled that recently President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Instrument of Accession to the International Cocoa Agreement, 2010.

A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, stated that the signed instrument was as a sequel to approval by the Federal Executive Council for Nigeria to accede to the agreement.

“Following the execution of the instrument of accession, Nigeria undertakes ‘faithfully to abide by all the stipulations contained’ in the agreement.

“Among other benefits, the agreement is expected to strengthen cooperation between exporting and importing member countries; improve their cocoa economies through active and better focused project development and strategies for capacity-building.

“The 2010 agreement is also expected to build on the successes of the 2001 agreement by ‘implementing measures leading to an increase in the income of cocoa farmers and by supporting cocoa producers in improving the functioning of their cocoa economies.

“It will also ‘deliver cocoa of better quality, take effective account of food-safety issues and help establish social, economic and environmental sustainability, so that farmers are rewarded for producing cocoa that meets ethical and environmental considerations,” Shehu stated.

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