U.S Expresses Shock that Cocoa is Raised by Hand in Nigeria

Jeffery Hawkins, the United States Consul General has expressed shock that cocoa is still being raised by hand in Nigeria instead of machine, noting that the manual process is a physically labour intensive.
Citing the insatiable worldwide appetite for chocolate, the US Consul General Jeffery Hawkins has therefore urged the Nigerian government to position itself and take advantage of the opportunity that represents the increased efforts on mechanizing growing of cocoa in the country.
Hawkins said that he was struck by the fact that cocoa is still raised by hand, and not machine in Nigeria, for fact that it remains a very labor-intensive,  commodity to produce, stressing that despite the physical labor involved, farmers are realizing very limited incomes from their efforts.
According to the US CG, “The US government has been working very closely with the Nigerian government, as well as with the country’s private sector, to advance Nigeria’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda. Bringing transformation to this country’s troubled cocoa sector is quite imperative.
Hawkins pointed out that the demand for cocoa is rising faster than cocoa production, and emerging economies such as China and India have developed a taste for chocolate, and many consumers can now afford the luxury.
He said that Cocoa consumption in developed economies is also up, with more and more consumers now demanding darker chocolate with upwards of 70 per cent cocoa content recent press reports disclosed that doctors are finding there are even health benefits from eating dark chocolate.
” With this rise in demand, international buyers are predicting a potential cocoa shortage by 2020. This has already contributed to cocoa prices rising 25 per cent in the past year.
But sadly, cocoa production here in Nigeria is diminishing. Cocoa farmers and their trees are aging, and farmers are getting some of the lowest yields on the continent. Farmers are tending small plots of land, often less than two hectares and are not making the investments needed to maintain quality or productivity. With high interest rates, and the cost of inputs exceeding farmers’ ability to pay, the sector is not seen as a viable way to make a living. Sons and daughters of cocoa farmers are heading to the cities for other opportunities”, Hawkins added.
A close up view of the new development in respect of quality cocoa productivity in Nigeria was clearly indicated at the cocoa summit, which provided an excellent opportunity to begin a discussion on how to again make cocoa a significant contributor to Nigeria’s economic development.
Making cocoa a viable prospect for youth employment is a real possibility and in the context of Nigeria, an absolute need. The challenge is to come to agreement among all the actors government and private to put these pieces together in a way that enables Nigerian agribusinesses to thrive over the long term.
“This is precisely the reason that the U.S. Government is supporting this summit and encouraging the coordinated development of the Nigerian cocoa industry”, he said.   

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