♦ Breeders, farmers advocate return of modified cocoa boards
COCOA Farmers’ Association of Nigeria (CFAN), breeders and administrators have challenged the government to revive cocoa production as a top foreign exchange earner with proactive interventions.
The proactive interventions, they argue, include a modified coordinating board, structured investments, adoption of latest high-yielding varieties, seed multiplication technologies and value chain development approach that could rev up industrialisation of cocoa beans, local consumption and employment generation along the value chain segments.
The Director/Chief Executive of the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), Dr. Olayiwola Olubamiwa, disclosed that Nigeria’s current cocoa production is around 367,000 tonnes annually, while Cote d’Ivoire produces 1.48 million tonnes and Ghana’s output is 834,000 tonnes.
The poor production level of cocoa in Nigeria, he said, is due to, among others, non-existence of cocoa commodity board, slow multiplication of new fast-growing, better-yielding varieties of cocoa, poor funding and failure of farmers to adopt the new breeds.
He said, “The erstwhile Cocoa Board was scrapped in 1987. Things have never been the same since then. Nigeria was second world producer until the early 1970s. Nigeria’s production declined from 420,000 tonnes yearly in the 1960s to 170,000 tonnes in 1999.”
Putting up an argument for a cocoa board, he recalled that “With the efforts of the National Cocoa Development Committee (NCDC), production moved from 170,000 tonnes in 1999 to around 350,000 in 2006.
Nigeria was second world producer until the early 1970s.
“Present production level is 367,000, bringing Nigeria to the fourth position. Nigeria cannot run away from the issue of a coordinating body if it wants to move forward.”
Backing up his argument, he added that “The existence of Ghana Cocoa Board is responsible for its success. Second, Nigerian cocoa trees and farmers are old.
The age brackets of the two are the same, over an average of 50 years.
The NCDC and the Cocoa Transformation Agenda (CoCTA) did a lot of rehabilitation of old trees but the efforts need to be beefed up.”
Culled from Guardian Nigeria