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June 17, 2024

Lagos Seeks Holistic Approach to Boost Cocoa Processing, Trade

The Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has called for a multifaceted approach to multiply the benefits of cocoa production, processing,and trade for enhanced economic growth.

Sanwo-Olu stated this at the International Cocoa and Chocolate Forum, ICCF, 2024, organised by the International Cocoa Diplomacy in partnership with the Nigerian Export-Import Bank, on Thursday in Lagos, with the theme, “Putting Value in Cocoa in Processing Region.”

Represented at the event by Mrs Folashade Ambrose-Medebem, the Lagos State Commissioner for Commerce, Cooperative, Trade and Investment who listed the approach to multiply the economic benefits to include infrastructure development, research and development, training and capacity building, financial incentives and market access, as well as trade facilitation.

She said that with the current economic challenge, compounded by the declining value of the nation’s currency, there was an urgent need for policy formation for value addition.

According to her, without doubt, Lagos is a trade hub for value addition, saying: 

“Lagos, with its strategic geographical position and robust infrastructure, is poised to become a central hub for cocoa processing and trade.

“Our ports, coupled with an efficient transportation network, provide an excellent platform for exporting processed cocoa products to Africa and the world.

“The statistics and roadmaps are quite exciting to know; by 2026, we aim to increase local cocoa processing to 40 per cent of our total cocoa production.

“We plan to establish at least three major cocoa processing plants in Lagos, each with a capacity to process 10,000 metric tonnes annually.

“We hope to train and empower over 20,000 cocoa farmers and SMEs by 2025 through various programmes.

“The journey to transforming Nigeria’s cocoa sector into a more value-added and prosperous industry requires collective efforts and strategic partnerships.

“Lagos State, with its vision and resources, is committed to leading this transformation. Together, we can create a sustainable and prosperous future for the cocoa industry, our economy, and our people,” he said.

She added that the country is blessed with vast agricultural resources adding that Nigeria would always take pride in cocoa as a major cash crop that has been a strong force in its economic development, particularly of the South West.

“Thus, the importance of cocoa to Nigeria can not be over-emphasised.

“As the world’s fourth-largest producer of cocoa, Nigeria produces approximately 287,000 metric tonnes annually, contributing significantly to the global supply.

“Also, it is not only a significant source of foreign exchange but also a critical means of livelihood for millions of farmers.

“However, the greater potential that has remained largely unexploited lies in value addition; transforming raw cocoa into a myriad of products and derivatives.

“Much of our cocoa is exported as raw beans, with limited local processing.

“This represents a missed opportunity for higher revenue generation, job creation, poverty alleviation, economic diversification, and development,” he said.

In his remarks, Gov. Ademola Adeleke of Osun State said the state was a critical stakeholder in the nation’s cocoa sector and the third in production capacity after Ondo and Cross River states.

Adeleke who was represented by Mr Tola Faseru, the Osun State Commissioner for Agriculture and Food Security,  said that the state has the capacity to produce 80,000 metric tonnes per annum while the current production figure is 22,000 metric tonnes.

He noted that the state has an action plan for the rehabilitation of old cocoa plantations in terms of facilities and re-plantation as well as opening up new cocoa estates with young farmers

He said that there was a plan to resuscitate the state owned cocoa processing industry at Ede for value chain addition.

Speaking further he stated that the ongoing plan is to establish cottage cocoa factories across the state under an industry cluster agenda. My administration is targeting such cottage factories to increase cocoa processing and development of the value chain industry.

“In our revenue profile, Cocoa is a major source of foreign exchange earnings and contributes significantly to the state treasury.

“The graded figure for the year 2023 is 13,000 metric tonnes with the state earning N180 million.

“In my administration’s drive to attain number one position in the community of cocoa producing states, we are doubling down on the implementation of our agenda by focusing on the following,” he said.

He urged the federal government to declare an emergency in the cocoa sector by direct federal interventions in financing revival plans for cocoa producing states.

He also noted that the federal government should support the creation of state marketing boards to fast track the re-development of the cocoa sector at the state level.

Commending the Western Region Development Initiative, he said  efforts are  currently ongoing to employ a regional framework to revive the cocoa sector.

He, however, noted that each state of the South West must first build a local revival plan, adding that the issue is local and can not be treated from top to bottom.

He urged cocoa producing states to introduce innovations towards reviving the cocoa sector by setting targets to increase tons of cocoa presently produced.

He also urged the states to support cocoa farmers and ensure that young farmers enter the sub-sector and also to collaborate with research institutions such as the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria for new cocoa varieties.

“As a governor, my agenda includes reviving the sector holistically; assembling stakeholders to design an updated revival plan and get the cocoa industry in my town running again.

“To put life back into the cocoa farming sub-sector through demonstration of political will, get more investors into the value chain through ease of doing business.

“I will set up a domestic export terminal in Osun state to ease the export process and access to the international market and also partner with the railway corporation for ease of transport,” he said.

Also, Malam Balarabe Lawal, Minister of Environment, stressed the need for a balance between investments for economic success, social well-being, and environmental sustainability in order to achieve a sustainable viable future for cocoa production.

Lawal was represented by Mrs Olusola Akinyemi, Federal Controller of Lagos and South-West Zone.

In his keynote address, titled: “The Link Between Investments and Sustainability in a Global Market,” he said It should be a collective effort to ensure sustainability in the sector.

He said this involves all key stakeholders in the cocoa industry, cocoa farmers,  processors, traders, investors, researchers, experts, all cocoa value chain players, and the government and policy makers.

The minister called for advocacy, partnership, and collaborations for optimal results.

“I congratulate the International Cocoa Diplomacy for bringing all these stakeholders here today to rub minds and chart a new sustainable course forward for shared value purposes between producing regions and consuming nations.

“To achieve this aim, cocoa farmers should adopt following sustainable practices:

“Sustainable farming practices such as the Agro-forestry initiative; adopt a sustainable land-use system that prevents deforestation, thus reducing pressure on our existing forests.

“Farmers should totally eradicate the culture of massive cutting down of trees or encroachment on forest plantations for cocoa planting purposes.

“The use of eco-friendly pest control methods should be adopted to reduce chemical load released into the environment.

“Investments into new technologies and adoption by cocoa farmers would add value to cocoa products at the global market.

“Technologies for efficient drying of cocoa beans to meet international export standards and certifications. This would give cocoa farmers a comparative edge at the global market,” he said.

Oba Dokun Thompson, the Oloni of Eti-Oni, Osun State, Founder, International Cocoa Diplomacy, said the programme was held in two locations, Abuja, and Lagos to create access to market in the cocoa sector.

According to him, the conference is to bring about investors, financiers, equipment manufacturers, entrepreneurs, traders, and different groups to brainstorm on issues and fashion a way out.

“This conference is to discuss how to create access to markets and a culture that can add the right value and wealth creation in the cocoa industry,” he said.

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