Nigeria’s cocoa production to hit one million tonnes in 2020 – minister | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Nigeria’s cocoa production to hit one million tonnes in 2020 – minister

Posted: Apr 21, 2015 at 7:32 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)


By Sola Alabadan, Lagos

Nigeria’s cocoa production could top one million tonnes in 2020, Minister of Agriculture, Akinwumi Adesina said on Tuesday. He also enjoined the African Development Bank (AfDB) on the need to help countries tackle volatility and move up the commodities value chain.

Adesina had previously said Nigeria was aiming to increase production to one million tonnes by 2018 but the growth target remains challenging given production has actually fallen this year to “at most” 300,000 tonnes, according to the head of the country’s private sector cocoa association.

Following the recent steep oil price drop, pressure to diversify the economy has intensified and the government is trying to draw farmers back to cocoa and boost production, which has been hamstrung by old, lower-yielding plants.

Adesina, who is also one of eight candidates shortlisted to become AfDB president later this year, said efforts were well underway to renew and ramp up Nigerian cocoa production.
“We have distributed more than 140 million seedlings of high-yielding cocoa varieties to recapitalise the cocoa plantations, because they are so old,” he told Reuters in an interview. “That will give us a yield of almost five times.”

Adesina, a member of President Goodluck Jonathan’s outgoing government in Africa’s most populous nation, said Nigeria produced around 370,000 tonnes last year but estimated that this could rise to around 700,000 tonnes in 2016.
“By 2020, Nigeria should be certainly in the one million cocoa production club,” he said.

African economies and the AfDB now needed to focus on starting to process more of its agricultural production rather than just exporting it, argued the minister.

“Almost 78 percent of global cocoa production comes from Africa, with top producers, but we don’t account for more than 3 percent in terms of global share for chocolate,” he said.

Nigeria is the world’s fourth largest cocoa producer, after Ivory Coast, Ghana and Indonesia, according to International Cocoa Organization data.

The key now was to boost lending by banks into the agricultural sector, which could be achieved by risk-sharing facilities, Adesina said.

“The AfDB should do a lot more to help deal with volatility by helping countries to have fiscal buffers to deal with the downturns,” he added. This could come in the form of domestic cocoa boards set up with the private sector, and by launching more sovereign wealth funds.

The cost of food imports had fallen to 643 billion naira ($3.23 billion) in 2014, Adesina said, hoping for another reduction this year. Nigeria grows much of its own food, but imports a number of staples such as wheat and rice.