In­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion: How FG plans to lever­age on co­coa pro­duc­tion

Daily Trust - - BUSINESS - By Fran­cis Arinze Iloani

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

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