Nigerian Cocoa Struggles on the Back of Aging Farms and Farmers

Cocoa was one of the major sources of income for Nigeria in the early 1950s and 1960s. Nigeria was the world’s second-largest producer of cocoa with over 50 percent of all cocoa export in the 1960s before the emergence of the oil sector in the 1970s. Decades later, Nigeria has recorded a significant decline in the production of cocoa. Nigeria is currently sitting as the fourth largest producer of cocoa in the world producing 328,263 tonnes, behind Indonesia with 659,776 tonnes, Ghana with 883,652 tonnes, and Ivory Coast as the leading producer of cocoa with 2,034,000 tonnes.

While many attributed the fall of the cocoa export giant to the discovery of crude oil in the 1970s, analysts took a deeper dive to look at other plethora challenges that diminished the nation’s production rate. About 90 percent of the nation’s cocoa beans are exported while about 10 percent are processed locally. This is due to the less functionality of existing cocoa processing plants in Nigeria. Amidst other factors are the aging of farmers and farmlands, less recruitment of young farmers, high input cost, insecurity and banditry, technological advancement, and access to finance and loans. With these existing challenges, analyst suggests that the Federal Government’s plan to achieve a production of 500,000 tonnes by 2024 might be unrealistic.

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