NIGERIA- Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), in collaboration with the Abia State Government, organised a one-day capacity building workshop in Umuahia, the state capital to sensitise farmers on how to increase cocoa production for export.

This was done to enhance the contribution of the non-oil sector to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product GDP, which was discussed with various challenges facing cocoa export, for which stakeholders were equipped with current standards and quality techniques that conform to buyers’ requirements especially in the European Union market.

As at April 2017, cocoa output was 1,148,992 tonnes from Cote d’Ivoire; 835,466 in Ghana; and 367,000 from Nigeria.

Some of major players in agri-business had “expressed fears that Nigeria may lose up to N1trillion by Year 2020, if nothing is done to grow the product massively.”

Addressing the workshop, the NEPC Chief Executive Officer, Abdullahi Sidi-Aliyu, represented by the Director, Product Development Department, William Ezeagu said,  “Nigeria is yet to explore her potential in cocoa industry in the continent when compared with countries such as Cot d’Ivoire, and Ghana.

He said it was this scenario that prompted NEPC’s readiness to partner with state governments, NGOs, farmers, and cocoa exporters to work out programmes that would create the desired value chain in the sector.”

He asserted that “Nigerian Cocoa has consistently remained profitable for several decades and rated one of the best in the world because of its flavor.”

Ezeagu listed the challenges facing the sector to include low Cocoa prices, poor productivity, and vulnerability to price down turns due to volatile commodity markets, limited knowledge of new/efficient farming techniques, poor or lack of organisational capacity among farmers’ groups, and poor pest control and many others.

He added that these “have continued to hamper Nigeria’s ability to command fair market share from the product internationally,” adding, “Nigeria’s earnings from cocoa and cocoa products accounted for $338.17million in 2015, and US$242.23million in 2016, which amounted to 20.8 and 20.13% respectively in the corresponding years.”

The Guardian Nigeria