The president, Cocoa Association of Nigeria and Vice President, World Cocoa Producers Organisation Sayina Riman has called on the federal government to synergise with the private sector towards reviving and developing the nations Cocoa industry.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP following a meeting of stakeholders with the Minister of Trade and Investment in Abuja Yesterday, he said “Nigeria has also lost a 110,000 metric tonnes of cocoa production to neighbouring countries”
According to Riman “ exchange Cocoa has been the major foreign earner and still remains foreign exchange earner after oil and we strongly believe that we should harness this potentials and move ahead as cocoa can still bring about the needed foreign exchange, any day anytime”
The President lamented that Cocoa production in Nigeria has always had challenges, even as he expressed shock at some of the policies by the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN).
“We are shocked at some of the policies by the CBN that has affected Cocoa adversely , we have fought for it and asked them to rescind their policies. It appears from all indications that Nigerian cocoa now finds its way to other countries, as such our production figure has dropped from almost 300,000 to 190,000 right now” he said
Speaking on the reasons for the collapse for cocoa production in Nigeria, he said “there could be other variables “but mostly one of the major variables is that the public sector has not synergise with the private sector as most of what we hear are the paper successes and that synergy needs to be rebuild and we also need to have Extension agents that will be provided by the public sector into the industry”
“For the immediate terms to redeem what we first produced we need to have our exporters have unfettered access for their proceeds , but the CBN policy that still talks about going through interbank means you are forced to sell to the bank and not to who wants to buy your dollars”
Other stakeholders at the meeting agreed that cocoa production was challenged by high poverty rates, declining soil, climate change, effects of pest and diseases, high cost of inputs and mitigating policies , lack of competitiveness, inadequate sensitization, lack of infrastructures among other.