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June 06, 2012

Nigeria: new cocoa variety, ambitious sector expansion plans

The Nigerian minister of agriculture farmers in the country's states that produces cocoa will soon benefit from the distribution of a much improved variety, as part of the government's efforts to kick start several sectors of the oil-producing country's long-neglected agriculture.

Akinwunmi Adesina said the new cocoa hybrid was an improvement on the old variety and had the capacity to produce 2,000 cocoa buds per tree, versus 350 produced by the old cocoa type. He said the new variety had a maturity time of two to two and half years, while the old cocoa variety took four or more years to mature.

''We want to restore the lost glory in the world trade of cocoa,'' said Adesina. ''We have completely lost those things we used to have because of the excessive emphasis the country has placed on importation. In the past, Nigeria used to be a leading force in oil palm production, but Malaysia has taken over palm oil production and they got the seedlings from Nigeria. My job as an agriculture minister is not to import food, but to export food.''

Recent press reports indicated that  Nigeria plans to increase its production of cocoa from the latest harvest of 250,000 tonnes to a targeted one million tonnes from 2018. Various steps are reportedly underway to increase yields from 350 to 500 kilograms of cocoa per hectare.

The rhetoric sounds good and there is a lot of it, but talk is cheap. Let's see if this agriculture minister achieves any more than the previous ones whose talking didn't quite translate into action; leaving fertile, wet and potentially mighty Nigeria deeply dependent on oil revenue and the importation of many food items.

African Agriculture

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