The Oloni of Eti-Oni, Osun State, and founder of International Cocoa Diplomacy (ICD), Oba Dokun Thompson, revealed Nigeria’s rank as the fourth in cocoa production around the world after Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana and Indonesia. The country has a production capacity of 340,163 tonnes but has been unable to key into the potentials of Cocoa’s value chain. Failure to tap into these potentials has caused the country a yearly loss of an average of $2 billion.
Despite Nigeria’s vantage position as one of the top four cocoa producers in the world, it is only able to process an inadequate 0.1 percent of it’s cocoa produce into chocolate. This act, according to ICD boss, shows that Nigerians are still oblivious of the value of cocoa consumption and its basic and most popular consumption product, which is chocolate. He therefore hoped that Nigeria is capable of increasing cocoa production to 1.5 million tonnes per year, consuming a great amount of it, supply the African continent before exporting to Europe and America.
Understanding the culture of cocoa is a challenge in Nigeria.
As easy and possible as increasing the country’s chocolate production seems, there are certain obstacles that could impend it’s accomplishment. Some of these obstacles include difficult environments, inaccessibility to capital and packaging. According to Oba Dokun, the major challenge is the culture of cocoa which has to do with understanding cocoa and all that it entails in terms of primary production, secondary production and tertiary production. Cocoa is regarded as a raw material which makes each production process essential.
While the primary is considered as raw material, the secondary is responsible for production of industrial products and the tertiary for production of finished products that are consumable by end users. There is also the challenge of the need to study the technology that cocoa needs to achieve the 1.5 million tonne target. Lack of understanding of the technology required to convert cocoa into other products and increase value has led to inaccessibility of the machinery due to cost and funding.
Cocoa industry lacks funding for required technology.
Furthermore, having the machinery would create another challenge of having to learn how to brand, package and define it. Chocolate, for instance, is defined by its origin — an attribute that contributes to defining the value of chocolate. In Nigeria, chocolate is made on the basis of the country’s vibrancy in colours, it’s multi-ethnicity, religiosity and many more. However, another key obstacle is funding. Craving the technology is not enough as it needs to be bought — an impossible progress without funding.
Eti-Oni’s Oloni therefore advised Nigeria to create the cocoa culture so as to be able to produce varieties of products with cocoa. He added that a major sim of the ICD is to help create the culture and give opportunity for creation of partnership, collaborations and a chance for people to have a better understanding to set fully grown standards that would tackle issues that concern sustainability, climate change and others. To achieve this, the ICD is working with Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN) and others.
Resource contributes N400b yearly to Nigeria’s economy.
Additionally, the National President of Cocoa Association of Nigeria (CAN), Mr. Moruf Abolarinwa, stated that the association has invested and will keep investing billions of naira in the cocoa business as contribution of their own quota to the growth of the economy while providing employment opportunities for millions of youth and women. Regardless of the challenges, he added, cocoa remains Nigeria’s surest non-crude oil foreign exchange earner. He affirmed that Cocoa’s contribution to the nation’s economy is over N400 billion yearly from sale of cocoa beans and secondary products.