By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA– THE Federal Government has declared that Nigeria will regain her lost position as the world’s largest cocoa producer and exporter soon.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, disclosed this during the inauguration of the Cocoa Relaunch Committee at the headquarters of the Ministry in Abuja.
Ogbeh said the government’s move to realise the lofty ambition was possible with the inauguration of Dr Olayiwola Oluwole-led committee for the country to attain the top spot from its current seventh position in world cocoa producing countries’ ranking. He said: “In-house here, we can say it is a shame for us to be seventh on the list of cocoa producers in the world. But we must reverse it to be at the top and that is why we are here. This is the time to do it and no other time than now.
Largest cocoa producer
“Cocoa can be grown in many parts of the country. We cannot afford to remain seventh cocoa producing nation. We are going to take over from Cote D’Ivoire as the largest cocoa producer in the world. We can earn huge foreign exchange from cocoa because oil and gas has done damage to our economy and we have to go back to agriculture to rescue the economy.
“We are going to have cocoa relaunch campaign in March at Ondo State, and we want all cocoa farmers from cocoa producing states to be present. You have to come up with materials that could be used for cocoa production because cocoa can be grown in many parts of the country and presently there are 27 states that can grow cocoa. The cocoa farmers need to be enlightened on what they could do to improve on what they have been doing in the industry.”
The minister also expressed confidence in the newly inaugurated committee and charged them not to hesitate to come up with useful approach to move Nigeria’s cocoa producing capacity higher than it has been, and also stated that farmers are to be in charge of cocoa and not government.
Speaking on behalf of the committee, the chairman, Dr Olayiwola Oluwole, thanked the minister for the confidence reposed in them, some of whom are being drawn from both public and private sectors. He promised to work assiduously to ensure Nigeria recovers her lost glory of being the largest producer of the commodity in the world and also number one cocoa exporting country in the world.