…as FG intensifies moves to diversify economy
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Earnest Umakhihe, has disclosed that Nigeria earned N63.18b from cocoa which he said made the commodity the highest foreign exchange earner in the second quarter of 2021 for the country.
According to Umakhihe, the development was due to the focus and determination of the Federal Government to diversify the economy through agriculture.
The Permanent Secretary stated this during a Stakeholders Forum on Cocoa Value Chain Development in Nigeria, which was held at the Federal College of Agriculture, Akure, the Ondo State capital on Wednesday, with major players in the sector as participants.
While emphasizing that the ministry will continue to play its role in providing an enabling environment for active participation of all the key players in the cocoa agricultural sub-sector, Umakhihe maintained that the forum was designed to boost the current synergy and cooperation between key players in the sub-sector.
He said: “The focus of this present administration to diversify the Nigeria economy through agriculture is based on the enormous potentials in the sector, in terms of improving the livelihood of cocoa farmers, job creation and foreign exchange earnings.
“This is beginning to yield positive results as clearly stated in recent reports by Naira-metrics that Nigeria continues to expand its ability to earn foreign exchange from agricultural exports especially during a time when oil revenue is not as robust as it used to be, due to the OPEC production quota and oscillating crude oil price, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) also indicated that Nigeria earned N63.18 billion from cocoa making the commodity the highest usual foreign exchange earner in Second quarter 2021.”
On his part, the Desk Officer, Cocoa Value Chain, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Olutobaba Ajayi, said that Nigeria is focusing to increase the production of cocoa to 650,000 metric tonnes in the next few years from the current 250,000 metric tonnes.
One of the stakeholders at the forum, the National President, Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN), Adeola Adegoke, stated that the move by the ministry was an opportunity to reverse the ugly trend in the cocoa sector.