|Dr Akin Adesina|
Addressing participants at the 23rd partnership forum organised by the World Cocoa Foundation in Washington DC, United States of America, last Wednesday on theme “Meeting Tomorrow’s Demand: Productivity, Quality, and Farmers’ Livelihoods,” Dr. Adesina told stakeholders how Nigeria is “developing a sustainable vehicle built on a public-private partnership platform to coordinate the whole cocoa sector that will be public sector-enabled but private sector-driven with all stakeholders playing active role.”
To demonstrate the commitment of Nigeria in developing the cocoa industry, the minister disclosed the plans on rehabilitation of “200,000 hectares over the next four years through an aggressive plan developed in partnership with private sector to provide employment for skilled professionals called ‘Professional Cocoa Doctors and Grafters’ over the next five years who would be able to deploy their skills to earn a decent living and rehabilitate at least 200,000 ha cocoa farms in Nigeria.”
According to the special assistant on media to the Minister, Dr. Oyeleye Olukayode in a press statement made available to NaijaAgroNet, Dr. Adesina was quoted as saying, “with the support of MARS Incorporated, some personnel were sent to Indonesia to study Indonesia’s impressive cocoa plantation rehabilitation strategy.”
He also said the Nigerian Cocoa Investment Plan aligns with the theme of this partnership meeting very important to consider how to improve productivity, quality and livelihood to meet the growing demand for cocoa products estimated to reach some 5.0 million MT in 2020, some additional 1.0 million MT to the current cocoa beans output.
Adesina outlined major problems militating against progress in cocoa business in Nigeria, to include production: practices, productivity, environment, labour, youth engagement; poverty issue; access to credits; market exposures; price volatility; land tenure; environmental issue; social issues such as labour and migration.
As said by him, despite these challenges, Nigeria still see a great opportunity in the face of emerging realities of the global cocoa economy.
“That is why we have put in place a Cocoa Transformation Agenda (The CocTA PLAN) with a vision of ‘Growing Nigeria’s Share of the World Cocoa market,” he assured.
Team leader for the Nigerian cocoa transformation agenda, Mr. Peter Aikpokpodion, noted that entrepreneurship in cocoa programme, hitherto lacking in Nigeria, is now being emphasised, as government is working towards facilitating stakeholders to recognise agriculture and cocoa production as business.
For the chief executive officer, Cocoa Products (Ile Oluji) Ltd, Akin Olusuyi, said that the federal government has been doing a lot to improve the cocoa economy under the present administration.
“We need to create institutions within a legal framework, within an act of parliament. We need to re-orientate the players in a cocoa value chain. We cannot develop the cocoa economy if all we do is produce for export. Cocoa plantations need to be seen as business, going beyond members of family, to generate wealth,” he advised.
Also speaking, Richard Rogers of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, advised that “work in cocoa has to be government-enabled and private sector-driven. Various players have to figure out what our roles are, how to work together collaboratively and what the opportunities are for the smallholders.”
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