The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, has said that Nigeria is expected to generate $1.5 billion from cocoa exports in 2014.
Adesina who disclosed this recently in his paper entitled, “Nigeria’s High Growth, Low Development Gap: Harnessing the Untapped Potential of Agriculture for Inclusive Growth,” at the first Convocation Ceremony of the Land Mark University, Aran, Kwara State, said that foreign exchange earning from Nigeria’s cocoa exports had grown from $900 million in 2012 to $1.2 billion in 2013.
According to him, the cocoa revolution in Nigeria is receiving global attention as Hershey, one of the largest chocolate companies in the world, has invested $20 million to procure cocoa from over 20,000 certified cocoa farmers in the country.
He said Nigeria has also launched into local manufacturing of Nigerian chocolates through a strategic partnership with a US-based company, the first of such in the manufacturing history of the country.
Adesina said, “we are revamping our cocoa plantations, replacing old trees with high yielding cocoa hybrids that give farmers five times the yields they currently obtain. Over the past two years, we have distributed 1.1 million pods or 39 million seedlings, free of charge to farmers, enough to plant 40,000ha of new cocoa fields.
“We are working hard to drastically mechanise our agriculture from reliance on hoes and cutlasses. Hoes and cutlasses are for museums not for modern agriculture. To allow farmers to acquire and or lease modern mechanised machinery, we have launched 600 agricultural equipment hiring enterprises run by the private sector to provide full complements of tractors and pre- and post-harvest machinery to farmers,” he added.
The minister explained that farmers would be provided subsidised mechanised services via electronic vouchers on their mobile phones, for mechanisation support, to allow them to hire agricultural machinery from private sector operators. He said these centers would create employment for agricultural engineers, as operators, managers or owners of agricultural mechanisation centers. [Source: DAILY SUN]