The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has disclosed that Nigeria has lost over $100 billion since 2008 over its inability to produce, process, and export additional cocoa beans, palm oil, groundnuts, and cotton.
“It is estimated that Nigeria has lost $10 billion in annual export opportunity from groundnut, palm oil, cocoa, and cotton alone due to a continuous decline in the production of those commodities.
“Food (crop) production increases have not kept pace with population growth, resulting in rising food imports and declining levels of national food self-sufficiency,” the FAO report said.
The main factors undermining production include reliance on rain-fed agriculture, smallholder landholding, and low productivity due to poor planting material, low fertilizer application, and a weak agricultural extension system, among others.
The Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA), which the present Muhammadu Buhari-led government promised would be continued, set a cocoa productivity goal to double cocoa production in Nigeria from 250,000 in 2011 to 500,000 metric tonnes by 2015, but industry players claim the production has not improved.
Former Executive Director of the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), Professor Malachy Akoroda, said the goal was not backed up with sincere actions, describing the goal as far from realities.
The national output of cocoa will increase from 230,000mt to 714,000mt. This will be accomplished by increasing planted land area from the current 657,143ha to 905,000ha.
As part of the private sector-led solutions to the challenges of the industry, the association says it has been working to increase cocoa beans per hectare from 350kg to 789kg.
“The average cocoa farmer who has about 2.5 hectares who normally produces an output of 875kg and earns a gross revenue of N525,000 will now produce an output of 1,625kg and earn a more reasonable gross revenue of N975,000.
“The plan has interventions directed at providing support to cocoa farmers who want to establish new plantations or introduce complementary enterprises into his farm business for income generation opportunities,” the cocoa association revealed.