Lastweek at the maiden edition of International Cocoa Summit 2017 in Abuja, President Muhammadu Buhari declared cocoa the national dream of Nigeria. TAIWO HASSAN looks at the Federal Government’s efforts at repositioning the sector.
Indeed, Nigeria’s cocoa industry is currently experiencing turbulent challenges in all fronts. This is coming at a time the country’s economy has been adversely impaired by the slump in the price of crude oil at the international market.
Interestingly cocoa is supposed to play a crucial role as a ‘game changer’ towards the country’s quest to generate the much desired foreign exchange.
Ideally, in the past, before the advent of crude oil in large quantity, Nigeria solely relied on cocoa export for growth in all ramifications. Precisely, the crop was the highest revenue earner for the country then.
Past governments then relied solely on foreign exchange realised from the sale of cocoa at the international market to build the country’s infrastructure.
For instance, proceeds from cocoa sales was used to built the famous Western House in Ibadan known as the ‘Cocoa House’, National Stadium, Lagos, establishment of Nigerian Television Authority, Ibadan in Oyo State, University of Ibadan (UI) among others, when the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, was the administrator in charge of the Western Region.
But of late, the bounties from cocoa have disappeared into thin air. Even though Nigeria’s rating among cocoa producing nations has also plummeted to seventh position from second. Cocoa rebirth Amid the prevailing challenges confronting cocoa industry, stakeholders and government representatives converged on the 1st International Cocoa Summit 2017 in Abuja, to chat a path towards rebirth of Nigeria’s cocoa industry.
For industry watchers, the conference was timely due to the state of the Nigerian economy. President Muhammadu Buhari used the opportunity of the forum to charge stakeholders in the cocoa sub-sector to step up efforts towards repositioning the industry and make it the national dream of Nigeria, so that it can regain its lost glory among cocoa producing countries of the world.
Particularly, President Buhari’s clarion call for new paradigm shift in the cocoa industry is strategic at a time he had placed priority on agriculture as cornerstone of his administration.
Themed “Cocoa a Strategic Commodity for National Economic Development,” the president, who was represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Chief Audu Ogbeh, said that the cocoa industry in Nigeria has the potential to fully achieve the diversification policies of the present administration but due to
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