Nigeria’s production of cocoa is said to be growing steadily, spurred by record high prices in recent years, although growth falls far short of goals set by the authorities because farms need replanting and many farmers are now rather elderly.
According to a recent report produced by the US Department of Agriculture’s Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN), Nigerian production in 2011/2012 is forecast to increase to 300,000 tonnes, up from 280,000 tonnes this year.
“Rising international market prices for cocoa have continued to encourage Nigerian farmers to rehabilitate abandoned farms and increase the area under cultivation,” said the authors of the report. “Growers’ returns have increased following the sharp rise in world price levels for cocoa caused by the conflict in Côte d’Ivoire.
“Over the last five years, Nigerian grower prices increased more than 50 per cent to the current average of 460,000 Naira per tonne,” said the report, noting that the US imported cocoa products valued at US$40 million from Nigeria in 2010.
The report said local processing is also expected to increase, spurred by increasing demand for cocoa powder and the Export Expansion Grant (EEG), the government of Nigeria’s export incentive rebate programme which is primarily designed to encourage non-oil exports.
“Cocoa exporters in Nigeria are demanding higher quality cocoa from agents and producers,” the report said, “and for the first time a Nigerian cocoa exporter recently became part of UTZ Certified’s Good Inside programme.”