Production of cocoa as cash crop has dropped due to inadequate financing, among other factors.
This is despite that cocoa is the nation’s leading cash crop in terms of export and second highest foreign exchange earner as indicated by the National Bureau of Statistics’ (NBS) Top Products by Imports and Exports Q1, 2020.
Strikingly, as Nigeria faces regression in cocoa production, the crop in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, with less number of hectares, is enjoying boom and has overtaken Nigeria in productivity per hectare in several folds.
A number of factors account for the decline in Nigeria’s cocoa yield, among which is budgetary allocations.
Apart from finance, other factors, according to experts, are low production per hectare, neglect of extension services, and lack of encouragement for youth participation.
Others are poor grading and quality-related issues and reluctance of banks to give loans.
Major cocoa-producing states in Nigeria are Ondo, Cross River, Ogun, Akwa Ibom, Ekiti, Delta, Osun and Oyo.
Others are Kwara, Nasarawa, Taraba, Zamfara, Kogi and Benue states.
The Ondo State Government’s 2020 budget for agriculture is N10 billion, while N5.55 billion is allocated to Youth Agric Programme.
Akwa Ibom allocated N12 billion to agriculture, though specific allocation to cocoa is not indicated.
In Ekiti State, Establishment of Cocoa Clona Garden/Rehabilitation and Cocoa Seedlings Production have zero allocation despite the state being a major producer of cocoa in the country.
Ogun State Government earmarked N21.634 billion, approximately 17 per cent of the total budget for agriculture in its 2020 budget proposal, but specific allocations to production of cash crops, including cocoa, are not clearly indicated.
The state’s Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr. Samson Odedina, told The Guardian the government focuses on providing the enabling environment for cocoa investors and farmers, saying it is private-sector driven.
In Edo State, the 2020 Ministry of Agriculture’s approved capital budget estimate is N370 million.
The breakdown indicates that livestock has N67 million; fisheries, N55 million; forestry, N38M and FADAMA: N20 million. Apparently, the state made no provision for capital spending on the cocoa sub-sector despite being a major producer.
Yearly production in tonnage nosedived from about 300,000 metric tonnes in 2013/2014 to 245,000 metric tonnes in 2019/2020 season.
But Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), despite the COVID-19 pandemic, reported a total purchase of 742,725 tonnes for the 2019/2020 cocoa season as of June 4, 2020, according to International Cocoa Organization (ICCO).
Similarly, Côte d’Ivoire, as of August 3, 2020, cumulative cocoa records, since the 2019/20 season started, established 2.043 million tonnes, down by 5.4 per cent from the 2.160 million tonnes reached during the same period the previous season.
Many cocoa processing factories in Nigeria are not functional or produce below capacity. About 90 per cent of the nation’s cocoa beans are exported and about 10 per cent is processed locally.
The country earned over N103 billion from cocoa products exported in 2018 as disclosed by Mr. Segun Awolowo, the CEO of Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC).
Awolowo had earlier said: “The low level of production is a result of many factors, including poor grading and quality-related issues.”