Industrialisation: How FG plans to leverage on cocoa production
Nigeria now targets the production of 500,000 metric tonnes of cocoa per year as part of efforts to industrialise the country and rescue the economy from the devastation of over dependence on oil revenues.
Before the oil boom of the 1970s and 1980s, Nigeria’s economy prospered on foreign exchange earned from cocoa and other agric produce export and the jobs created in the sub-sector kept the youths gainfully employed.
Few years after the oil boom, the cocoa subsector of the economy started suffering neglect and the result was diminished output and almost a halt in exports.
Data sourced from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment indicated that Nigeria has seen a sharp drop of annual production of cocoa from 420,000 metric tonnes in the 1960s to 300,000 metric tonnes over the years.
Recent data shows that Nigeria recorded a slum in the annual production of the commodity to 192,000 metric tonnes in 2015, indicating a continued fall in production volume and value, a development that has also affected exports.
Now, the easy-to-get foreign exchange from oil is becoming increasingly scarce following slump in international oil price.
More disturbing is the revelation that many countries will soon ban the use of petrol cars in few years to come, an indication that oil is likely to be almost as useless to Nigeria’s economy in few years to come as coal is today.
However, the Federal Government has announced plans to rescue the situation Nigeria occupied the 4th position in the ranking of countries producing cocoa some years ago but the country has since slumped to the 7th position as production plummeted further over the years. Our reporter reviews the new effort by government to earn more from the commodity. and return the country to her glorious position in cocoa production, processing and export as part of plans to industrialise the economy as well as diversify it.
The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Aisha Abubakar, on Tuesday night told journalists that the government wants to develop a national cocoa roadmap to rescue the subsector.
The roadmap aims to achieve 500,000 metric tonnes of cocoa production per year from the current less than 200,000 metric tonnes.
The aim is also to make sure that Nigeria processes at least 50 per cent of the 500, 000 metric tonnes as well as consumes 20 per cent of the annual total production by the year 2021.
To ensure the buy in of the world and all stakeholders in the subsector, the minister said government would hold an international cocoa summit this month among others.
The summit is being organised by the ministry in collaboration with the Cocoa Association of Nigeria (CAN), supported by the International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO), African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK) and governments of cocoa producing states.
The theme of the summit is ‘Cocoa, a Strategic Commodity for National Economic Development’ and aims to re-position and revitalise the cocoa subsector as part of government’s commitment to its industrialisation programme and to diversify the nation’s economy from the oil to non-oil sectors, particularly agriculture and solid minerals.
“The government aims to demonstrate clearly to the international community, the commitment and leadership of the Nigerian government and its change agenda, including industrialisation policies. The summit will no doubt open up global opportunities to both local and foreign investors to invest in Nigeria’s cocoa industry,” she said.
The National President of the Cocoa Association of Nigeria, Sayino Riman, regretted the relegation of cocoa from the height as a major foreign exchange earner for Nigeria due to the oil boom in the country.
Riman said during the pre-oil era, Nigeria built its economy on cocoa among others and the impact was felt both locally and globally.
He said his association is working closely with the Federal Government in strategising to return Nigeria to that glorious era now that oil revenue is becoming elusive.
He said the job creation potential of the subsector is huge and can take families out of poverty.
Meanwhile, as part of efforts on the diversification of the economy away from oil, the Federal Government is also planning to hold an international small and medium enterprises expo in Lagos for businesses with potential for export, including those involved in cocoa value chain.
The expo would serve as a window to the world and link businesses in Nigeria to the international market.
File photo of cocoa workers