Nigeria’s southeastern Cross River state is setting up a 4-billion naira ($10-million) cocoa-processing plant to start operations in August and target the export market, an official said.
Cross River, which accounts for about 30% of Nigeria’s output, has negotiated with chocolate companies based in Italy to receive supplies from the grinder, Peter Egba, the commissioner for industry, said in a phone interview from Calabar, the state capital.
The factory will receive raw material from local growers as well as farmers in neighboring Cameroon, across the nearby border, Egba said. The government also plans to distribute 10 million seedlings of a cocoa variety that matures in three years to farmers to increase output.
Nigeria is the world’s fifth-biggest producer of the chocolate ingredient, with the Cocoa Association of Nigeria expecting the 2020 main harvest between October and December to yield 148,750 tons.
There’s a smaller harvest between April and June. The investment comes at a time Nigeria is seeking to diversify its economy away from oil by boosting agricultural production and processing.