The Federal Government through the funding support of the Norwegian government, has commissioned a team of researchers saddled with the responsibility of developing training manual for agricultural extension agents and farmers as well as planting cocoa in the already existing cocoa plantations across the country to boost cocoa production.
Dr. Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development while speaking during the presentation on cocoa production update and manual by the researchers, CocoaSoil Group, on Tuesday in Abuja expressed optimism that the initiative would boost cocoa production in Nigeria.
Abubakar, explained that the five year project would increase cocoa yield as well as reduce post harvest loss of the farm produce.
The minister noted that the project has been done through careful planning, research and implementation.
He pointed out that without research, “there will be no innovation and development.We will just be stagnant.”
He said Nigeria has not been doing well in cocoa production over the years, while expressing his belief that with the training manual produced for agricultural extension agents and farmers, Nigeria would scale up its cocoa production.
Abubakar said findings from the research have revealed the reasons for low productivity in cocoa, noting that Nigeria is currently, not at its best in cocoa production.
The minister further stressed the need for value addition in cocoa export.
Also speaking, Dr. Moses Ogunlade, a cocoa scientist with National Cocoa Research Institute, explained that the project has two pillars namely research for development and partnership for delivery.
Ogunlade, who is also a Focal Person in Nigeria for CocoaSoil Project, said the major goal of the Project “is for development and dissemination of integrated soil facility management option with the aim of increasing cocoa productivity in the existing plantations as well as discouraging deforestation.”
“This is in addition to the development of specific fertiliser for cocoa production and establishment of cocoa plantations from the existing plantations.”
As part of measures to increase cocoa production in Nigeria, Ogunlade disclosed that 66 satellite trial sites have been established in various existing cocoa plantations across the country, adding that 52 sites are located in the South West and 14 in the South South.
The essence of the satellite trial site, according to him, “is to ensure that we increase productivity of the existing cocoa farms.”
He revealed that CocoaSoil is funded by Norwegian Agency for Development Corporation, as the project started in 2018.
Ogunlade said the project would ensure 30 percent increase in cocoa yield and 30 per cent increase in farmers’ income as well as reach 90,000 farmers in the four participating countries of Ghana, Cote’de voire, Cameroon and Nigeria.
In Nigeria, about 20,000 farmers have been reached already under the project.