….promises to boost value change for foreign exchange
By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA-PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has lamented low ranking of the nation’s cocoa production among cocoa producing countries in the world.
Buhari expressed his displeasure at the opening ceremony of the first International Cocoa Summit 2017 in Abuja on Monday.
The President, who was represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said the cocoa industry had remained backwards due to over dependence on crude oil and the attendant decline in its development and production.
He said Nigeria’s seventh position was appalling and traceable to long neglect of the sub-sector over the years by previous administrations.
Nigeria was occupying the number four spot in the world behind Indonesia, Ghana and Ivory Coast, but slide to seventh position as a result of poor political will to boost the industry and also lack of improved seeds for farmers and investors.
He said: “This summit is designed to be part of this administrations agricultural revolution with Cocoa as one of the main drivers. Cocoa is the second largest foreign exchange earner for Nigeria after crude oil and has generated over 2 million jobs directly and indirectly along its value chain.
“The sector has suffered neglect as a result of over reliance on crude oil. This led to decline in the country’s annual production from 420 metric tonnes in the 60s to 192, 000 metric tonnes in 2015.”
Meanwhile, the President disclosed and promised that his government currently planning a review of the cocoa value chain in view of boosting foreign exchange earnings soon as the Summit focuses on opening and deepening the economy through massive investments and strategic partnerships that would revamp the cocoa sub-sector.
In his opening remarks the President Cocoa Association of Nigeria, Sayina Riman, said the Association would come up with a five year strategic plan that would deepen Public Private Partnerships, PPP, in the industry to attract investors.