VENTURES AFRICA- The decision to list Nigeria among other three African nations for the African Cocoa Initiative that will lead to the establishment of 100,000 cocoa farms across the continent has given a boost to the country’s agricultural sector.
The project, which is funded by International Centre for Soil Fertility and Agricultural Development (IFDC), will also feature Ghana, Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire. The project is expected to cost $13 million.
Other organisations that will be supporting the project are the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, which would provide expertise in genetics, as well as the Alliance of Cocoa-Producing Countries.
Africa accounts for 70 percent of world’s cocoa production. The boost in the direct production of cocoa in African countries will step up the continent’s cocoa output, which will reflect on the rise of their GDP.
The annual production of cocoa in Nigeria has previously witnessed a decline but it is now picking up at 240 tons per annum, Yunusa Abubakar, an ICCO project coordinator projected last month.
According to IFDC Nigeria Country Representative, Scott Wallace, the ACI’s five-year programme, titled Global Development Alliance, which began in January, would help to develop the cocoa sector in the four countries in four critical areas. “The programme will foster public-private cooperative investments in cocoa and agriculture. It will also improve the genetic quality and productivity of cocoa varieties under cultivation and expand farmers’ education and training programmes.”
He also said the programme would “improve agro-input supply chains that serve farmers.”
Wallace explained that ACI was a public-private partnership initiative that would bring together the World Cocoa Foundation, cocoa industry members, the Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative and United States Agency for International Development under the programme.
IFDC, which is an implementing agency of ACI, would provide expertise to improve participating farmers’ access to fertilizer and would recommend its appropriate use.