The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has kick-started its cocoa revolution scheme in Bayelsa State by empowering 100 farmers with world-class nursery plants to serve as pilot farmers.
This is said to be in a drive to push Nigeria from the 4th world cocoa producer with 367,000 metric tonnes to give a fight to the likes of Cote D’Ivoire (1,444,992mt), Ghana (835,466mt) and Indonesia (777,500mt). The push is expected to give Nigeria a bigger share of the $12.4Bn market that Cocoa offers to its farmers.
The Zonal Coordinator of NEPC for South-South, Joe Itah, said Nigeria is not satisfied with its rank in a product where Africa is a leading producer-continent (72 per cent) with Europe as the leading consumer-continent.
NEPC said it had since 2018 planned to restart Bayelsa’s cocoa prowess and began a three-day workshop and empowerment scheme last week.
Itah said: “By the end of this workshop, you will be introduced to a wide variety of new developments in the cocoa industry. We will also give you marketing tips on how to successfully grow the crops’ activity through new business model ideas – in terms of product standards, quality and packaging for exports. With this knowledge, much of the cocoa produce will be exported after value-addition – attracting premium value in the international marketplace, and not just exported in raw form.’
NEPC brought along top resource persons in Cocoa and export marketing including Olasupo Festus (PhD) from Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN) Ibadan, Evelyn Kobo from NEPCs Information Services Division in South-South, and select ADP Extension Officers.
Benefitting farmers were drawn from across the local government areas in the State while top leaders in government in the agric sector in the state were present.
Itah said cocoa was identified as the state’s top crop in the one-state-one-crop scheme and would be a priority in the zero oil plan of the Fg promoted by NEPC.
Speaking, the state’s commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, David Alagoa, represented by a ministry official, Ebiye George, urged beneficiaries to take advantage of the initiative to grow the cocoa business in Bayelsa.
The Programme Manager of the Bayelsa State Agricultural Development Programme, Jackson Diegbegha, urged youths to go into cocoa farming to improve their economic fortunes.
Some of the beneficiaries included Abel Neki, Richardson Waridomigbomo, and Oviemuteti Emmanuel. They expressed appreciation for the gesture, stating that it would help them grow their cocoa farms.
The theme of the workshop is ‘Resuscitation of Cocoa Produce and Its Development for Exports in Bayelsa State.’