…as dearth of storage, processing facilities hamper growth
The Nigeran Export Promotion Council (NEPC), the leading Federal Government agency charged with the responsibility of promoting non-oil exports as the key driver of the Nigerian economy, by working to get Nigerian private sector to engage in product exports, says Cross River State has capacity to engage in export of cocoa and rice, and reap handsome foreign exchange.
Cross River is one of Nigeria’s largest cocoa producing states at current ratings, coming only behind Ondo State. Certain recent surveys say the state might have surpassed Ondo, as the state’s cocoa belts of Ikom, Ogoja, Boki, Obudu churn out several thousand tons of cocoa beans.
Ikom town is the state’s largest cocoa centre, hosting several cocoa warehouses run by moneybags commonly called “cocoa merchants.”
But the state is much hampered by lack of adequate storage and processing facilities which lead to huge post-harvest losses. The Ben Ayade administration in the state is presently touting with building a cocoa processing factory in Ikom, to absorb excess beans. However, that is yet to take off the ground.
Emmanuel Etim, trade promotion advisor at the NEPC Calabar office, said his agency has identified cocoa and rice as strategic export products whose potentials can be harnessed to generate foreign exchange, create jobs, grow the nation’s GDP, boost global esteem, and promote industrialization.
He said this in Ikom Local Government Area of the state during an interactive meeting with cocoa stakeholders and exporters in the cocoa value chain.
He told the cocoa stakeholders that NEPC, being an apex agency of the Federal Government to spearhead the diversification of the national economy through the development and promotion of the non-oil export sector, the council has initiated the implementation of the “One State, One Product” (OSOP) initiative as a veritable tool for achieving the zero-oil national economy in each state of the federation on export promotion.
Etim said the interaction explores possible areas of cooperation to boost the development of cocoa in the state for export. The meeting also focused on achieving massive production and massive marketing, identifying cocoa produce for export, reputable cocoa value chain, input and suppliers, seedlings, appropriate chemicals, among others.
The NEPC trade promotion advisor said the meeting also afforded his agency to know the current level of youth involvement to sustained cocoa production in the state.
Major states that produce cocoa in Nigeria are Ondo, Cross River, Ogun, Akwa Ibom, Edo, Ekiti, Delta, Osun and Oyo. Nigeria is currently the world’s fourth largest producer of cocoa, after Ivory Coast, Indonesia and Ghana, and the third largest exporter, after Ivory Coast and Ghana. The crop was a major foreign exchange earner for Nigeria in the 1950s and 1960s, and in 1970 the country was the second largest producer in the world, but following investments in the oil sector in the 1970s and 1980s, Nigeria’s share of world output declined. In 2010, cocoa production accounted for only 0.3 percent of agricultural GDP. Average cocoa beans production in Nigeria between 2000 and 2010 was 389,272 tonnes per year, rising from 170,000 tonnes produced in 1999.