Cocoa Bean: Determined to bring back the glorious days of cocoa which used to be one of the major foreign exchange earner for Nigeria, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), International Standards Organisation (ISO) and relevant stakeholders in the cocoa industry have drafted series of standards in sustainable and traceable cocoa beans.
The agency stated that the move was coming on the heels of its renewed focus to drive agricultural development in Nigeria.
The Director General, SON, Osita Aboloma, during an ISO Technical Committee meeting held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire on ‘Sustainable and Traceable Cocoa’ commended ISO for being instrumental in the development in the current draft ISO 34101 series of standards of cocoa beans.
The DG, represented by the Director, Business Support Services, SON, Mrs. Margaret Eshiett, stated that the draft ISO 34101 series of standards was aimed at specifying requirements for a management system for the farming of cocoa beans, making production more sustainable.
She added that the draft standard features a dynamic farm development plan, using a stepwise approach to improve the economic, social and environmental impact in the coca value chain.
The series, according to her, would help support the professionalism of cocoa farming around the world and support cocoa farmers to produce sustainably.
She further stated that when work is completed on the standards, the use of the ISO 13401 series of standards would have valuable impact on the livelihoods of cocoa farmers and their families, adding that it would help them transform their farms into economically viable businesses
Also speaking during the event, a representative of the Nigerian American University, Omorogbe Omorogiuwa, said one component in determining how to use agriculture to improve economics in Nigeria was to evaluate the historical efforts in terms of agriculture that Nigeria has engaged in since its independence.
Omorogiuwa added that Nigeria was fortunate to have an abundance of fertile soil along with a climate suitable for agriculture, adding that a recent group study examined the effect of other channels of growth on the decrease in poverty and the overall growth rate in six low-income countries of Africa, noting that the findings of that research could be applicable to Nigeria as well.
The president of the Cocoa Association of Nigeria (CAN), Sayina Riman, expects output for the new season to hit between 300,000 tonnes and 320,000 tonnes, sharply from the season just ended which was blighted by poor weather.
He disclosed that the cocoa season in Nigeria, the world’s fourth biggest producer, runs from October to September, with an October-to-February main crop and a smaller light or mid-crop that begins in April or May and runs through September.
The International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO), however, gave much lower estimates of Nigerian cocoa output. It forecasted last season’s production at 220,000 tonnes.
World cocoa prices have declined by a third in the last year amid a global supply glut after record production from top growers. Ivory Coast and Ghana. ICCO predicts a global surplus of 371,000 tonnes for 2016/17.
Cocoa trees need a delicate balance of rainy and dry weather. Too little rain and they whither; too much and they become susceptible to insects or fungal black pod disease. Beans can also go mouldy if small farmers are unable to dry them outside.
Meanwhile, Nigeria has thrown its weight behind the global efforts to turn cocoa beans farming into an economically-viable venture.
To this end, the country has joined the sustainable and traceable cocoa farming team. It participated with other cocoa producing nations at the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) Technical Committee meetings held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.