Yemi Osinbajo, Nigeria’s vice president, has urged Nigerian cocoa farmers to institute an effective mechanism and extend good agronomic practices and knowledge to ensure that cocoa produced in the world’s third largest exporting country meets international standards to avoid rejection in the global market.
Osibanjo stated this during the recently conducted Nigerian Cocoa Summit and Awards in Abuja.
Addressing concerns over the imminent rejection of Nigerian cocoa by the European Union from 2022 as alleged by the Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN), Osinbajo, who was represented by Eze Uzoma, the gap lead, tasked farmers to apply chemicals within the permissible standards, warning that the residual effects of indiscriminate application of chemicals would reduce the quality of the seed and depreciate earnings in the sector.
Mohammad Abubakar, minister of agriculture and rural development, attributed Nigeria’s loss of cocoa powder in the global market and competitiveness to lack of improved seedlings, pest infestation, pesticide contamination leading to low quality of cocoa beans among others.
Abubakar, who was represented by Karima Babangida, director, Federal Department of Agriculture, disclosed that the ministry was collaborating with all relevant stakeholders towards increasing cocoa production from the present 250,000 metric tonnes to 714,000 metric tonnes.
This, he explained, is in line with the new national cocoa plan as proposed to be sent to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval.
He further explained that the national cocoa plan, set to be implemented between 2021 to 2030, was aimed at promoting a sustainable cocoa economy, resurgence in production and industrialisation to trigger a robust domestic consumption, farmgate prosperity, youth engagement thereby leading to increased foreign exchange earnings from export of consistently superior quality beans and products.
The minister further noted that the federal government would be willing to support any state that is pushful in its quest to diversify the economy, especially in the area of increase in cocoa productivity to ensure that Nigeria regains its position as one of the leading cocoa-producing/exporting countries in the world.