The Federal Government has expressed displeasure over the downward trend of cocoa production in the country.
Olusegun Awolowo, the Executive Director, Nigerian Export Promotion Council, said this at an export skill acquisition programme for cocoa farmers, merchants and exporters in Ini Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom on Friday.
Awolowo represented by a Director in the council, Samuel Inyang, said that the council was worried by the downward trend and had sponsored a team of students to understudy the demand and supply situations of Nigerian cocoa in the US markets.
He said that as at 2015, when countries such as Ghana and Cote D’vore could boast of a production level of 1.7 million and 800,000 metric tonnes respectively, Nigeria’s production was still hovering around 220,000 to 250,000 metric tonnes per annum.
He said: “Historically, Nigeria’s cocoa production was competitive with other African countries such as Ghana and Cote D’Ivore until 1984.
“As at 2015, while Cote D’Ivore and Ghana could boast of production level of 1.7 million metric tonnes and 800.000 metric tonnes respectively, Nigeria’s production still hovers around 220,000 to 250,000 metric tonnes per annum.
“Available records have shown that cocoa and cocoa products earnings was 338.17 million dollars accounting for 20.8 per cent of the total non-oil exports value for Nigeria in 2015 and 242.23 million dollars representing 20.13 per cent in 2016.”
Awolowo said that if the recommendations of the team which included increase of yield through organic certification and targets of new market in U.S. were implemented, the country’s production could rise from its present 550 million dollars to 1.1 billion dollars by the year 2025.
He disclosed that the council was already working with the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Okoko in Ondo for increased production and distribution of seedlings to farmers and capacity building on improved processing for export.
Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom said that the workshop was designed to develop the skills and technical knowledge of farmers and equip them adequately toward ensuring that the country regained its global cocoa market share.
Emmanuel, represented by the Commissioner for Agriculture and Food Sufficiency, Dr Charles Udo-Inyang, commended the Federal Government for the workshop.
He said that Akwa Ibom was a medium cocoa producer among the 14 traditional cocoa producing states in the country with over 15 local government areas producing the commodity.
He said that the state government had promoted cocoa production using Community Plantation Development Scheme established since 2004.