Ondo State To Focus on Quality, Improvement and Packaging of Cocoa


Nigeria’s southwest Ondo state will strive to improve the quality of its cocoa and introduce good packaging, Ademola Olorunfemi, the state’s Commissioner for Agriculture, said Monday. 

He said the state would encourage “new, young generation” of farmers who would be given land to plant cocoa, adding the government will clear the land, carry out all the necessary cocoa planting, and teach the youths about good agricultural practices. 

This is geared towards producing good quality cocoa for export and local processing, he concluded.

Ondo state is Nigeria’s largest cocoa producer accounting for 40% of the country’s annual production of 240,000 to 250,000 metric tons a year. 
Olorunfemi said the state had worked with the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria, or CRIN, to enhance good quality cocoa production, with the state having well over 20 cocoa nurseries producing hybrid cocoa seedlings.
 “We sell the seedlings to farmers at 50 kobo (less than one cent) each, and we take the inputs to farmers on market days and still sell at the same price,” said Olorunfemi. “We are likely to go from 50 kobo per seedlings to giving them (seedlings) free to the farmers” in a bid to produce higher tonnage of good quality cocoa.
Olorunfemi also said the production of good quality cocoa and good packaging by Nigeria will ensure that its cocoa is not sold on discount in the world market.
 “The problem we have in Nigeria is generally about packaging,” Olorunfemi told Dow Jones Newswires in an interview. 
“We will get quality branding, we will purchase hydrocarbon-free jute bags that meet world standard, and we are going to have a robust grading standard.”
 Nigerian farmers, traders and exporters frequently use old and poor jute bags for cocoa packaging, in contravention of International Cocoa Organization’s and European Union’s regulations. Hence, the substandard packaging and the poor quality of Nigerian cocoa lead to its being bought at a discount on the international market.
“This year we will buy enough jute bags that will package 50,000 tons of cocoa to international standards,” he said.

by Obafemi Oredein

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