For the first time in West Africa, a regional symposium focusing on the next generation of cocoa research for West and Central Africa was held at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan, Oyo State,
The symposium, held from November 8 to 10, was meant to tackle the bottlenecks faced by cocoa producers in West and Central Africa, and update stakeholders and policy makers on recent innovations in cocoa improvement.
Notable leaders from Southwest Nigeria—the predominant region cultivating cocoa—including the Ooni (king) of Ife, state representatives (including governors of some states) of Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Cross-River, and Ondo States, and traditional rulers, joined academics, industry representatives, and stakeholders in Africa’s cocoa sector to discuss research priorities across both the public and private sector platforms, share research experiences, identify research needs, and ultimately, develop national, regional and global alliances to unleash the potential of the crop.
According to the Executive Director, Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), O. Olubamiwa, the Regional Cocoa Symposium is the first of its kind in Africa. “It is happening in West Africa—the hub of global cocoa production. It will highlight the diverse roles of cocoa in improving farmers’ livelihood. It is also a forum for stakeholders to synthesise ideas on sustainable cocoa production
Nteranya Sanginga, Director General of IITA, said that the symposium aims to bring together different stakeholders including public institutions, private partners and donors along with scientists, researchers, industry partners, farmers and other stakeholders across the value chain to draw a roadmap for a sustainable cocoa sector in the region.
“The symposium will address the issues around the research and development continuum and will provide the platform for scientific interaction, display of products, and strengthening of partnerships among different actors across the entire sector,” he further explained.
Richard Scobey, President, World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) stated that the symposium underscores the significant role being played by research in crop and livelihood advancement.