Nigeria’s biggest agricultural export is full of beans
Nigeria is the fourth-largest producer of cocoa beans in the world, behind Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Indonesia. After petroleum, cocoa is the country’s most important export – before independence, cocoa generated 90% of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings. Eclipsed these days by oil as the country’s major export, Nigeria still produces 300’000-350’000 tonnes of cocoa a year, most destined for consumption abroad – the country exports about 96% of its cocoa crop. Cocoa exports for October-March 2009/10 were up 31% on the previous year, helped by good weather conditions and improved quality in stock in the growing regions.
Fourteen of Nigeria’s 36 states grow cocoa: Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Ekiti, Kogi, Kwara, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo and Taraba.
Stakeholders and Programmes for Growth
Despite cocoa’s importance in the years before independence, the sector was allowed to decline after the oil boom of the 1970s and suffered for decades from under-investment. The cocoa industry was liberalised in 1986, when the government abolished the Nigerian Cocoa Board, a government bureau that controlled the marketing of cocoa, and deregulated the industry. The decline continued, however, so to rehabilitate the industry, in 1999 the government set up the National Cocoa Development Committee (NCDC). The NCDC promotes cocoa production and trade in cooperation with the various growers’ agencies operating in the industry, like the Cocoa Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN) and the Cocoa Growers Association of Nigeria (COGAN).
The Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN) is another major stakeholder in the sector: established in 1964 as a government parastatal, the Institute conducts research on cocoa, distributes seedlings to farmers and trains growers in modern agricultural practices as well as in business development skills.