From EMMA OBI, Calabar
The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) in collaboration with Cocoa Association of Nigeria (CAN) has concluded a training programme for about 750 cocoa farmers in Cross River State, South-South Nigeria.
Participants at the workshop which took place on Wednesday were informed that the objective of the Federal Government is to diversify her exports by developing a Zero-Crude-Oil Plan Initiative to grow the economy.
This disclosure was made in a one day capacity building workshop for farmers, merchants and exports of cocoa beans held in Ikom in the Central Senatorial District of Cross River State.
In an address, the Acting Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer NEPC, Mr. Abdullahi Sidi-Aliyu said “available records show that cocoa and cocoa products earnings was $338.17m accounting for 20.8% of the total non-oil exports value for Nigeria in the year 2015 and $242.23m representing 20.13% in the year 2016”.
Sidi-Aliyu who was represented at the occasion by the Deputy Director, National Export Office, Nigerian Promotion Council, Mrs. Veronica Oriare noted that, “Nigerian Cocoa has also remained consistently profitable for several decades and rated the best because of its flavor aroma”.
Sidi-Alliyu urged cocoa farmers to put more efforts to achieve massive production for exports adding that the Nigerian cocoa production was competitive with other African producers “such as those from Ghana and Cote D’Ivore until 1984” stressing that “as at 2015, while Cote D;Ivore and Ghana could boast of production level of about 1.7 and 800,000 metric tons respectively, Nigeria’s production still hovers around 220,000 to 250,000 metric tons per annum”.
The director added that the essence of non oil plan is to ensure massive Agro products.
Theme of the Workshop was “Repositioning Nigerian Cocoa Beans to attain global competitiveness”. Mr. Afolabi Belo of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council said the workshop will provide stakeholders with a global outlook for Nigerian Cocoa with a focus on the International market requirements and appropriate pricing templates.
He said “the training program will equip the target audience with current quality trends and issues that conform to buyers requirements in the international markets.
The president, Cocoa Association of Nigeria (CAN)/ who also combines as Vice President World Cocoa Producers Organization (WCPO), Mr. Sayina R. Riman stressed on the need to empower the youths back into Agriculture.
Similarly, the Cross River State Commissioner, Ministry of Commerce and Industry Mr. Peter Egba said the State Government remained committed to the Agricultural projects in the state and meeting the needs of the people.
Egba, who was represented by the Director of Administration Mr. Thomas Atem said Governor Ben Ayade has invested massively in Agriculture, having rice city, cocoa processing plant and other projects going.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Cocoa development Mr. Oscar Ofuka expressed satisfaction at the level which Prof. Ben Ayade has elevated Cocoa development and various Agricultural Projects across the state.
Working materials were presented to participants at the workshop.