Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Dr Mohammad Abubakar spoke yesterday at the presentation of cocoa soils training manuals in Abuja.
Abubakar noted that articulated research by experts had gone into the cocoa production manual on how to increase production.
He said: “Researchers have also gone to find out why cocoa production is not at its best here, because we have all it takes to be the best.
“From what has been carried out, we have identified the pitfalls, with this manual, we will return to exporting cocoa, it will become better than what we used to be.
“The pitfalls have been discovered, including the ease of production and planting which we will know what to do now”.
Explaining further, Abubakar said Nigeria should be the best cocoa producing country in the world, because it can be grown in many parts of the country.
“Now, it is time for us to start exporting cocoa powder so that we can increase the value chain, income for the farmers”.
He, however, said there were programmes coming up that were also in line with the cocoa industry, such as special agro industrial processing zone.
“We are seeing what is happening in other countries, and we will replicate it here. In the industry part, farmers will bring their raw materials to be processed, from there it will be exported”, the minister said.
Earlier, Director of Federal Department of Agricultural Extension Frank Kudla said the government and partners were working towards establishment of a cocoa plantation in the non-forest area.
The programme, he said, was led by Sustainable Trade Initiative (STI), International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), in collaboration with Cocoa Research Institute (CRIN) in the target countries including, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Cameroon.
Kudla, who chairs the Partnership for Development (P4D) Committee, said the cocoa soil project was targeted at investing in research and development of cocoa to improve partnership for the programme.
He noted that the research and development component was geared towards acquiring knowledge in cocoa management and nutrient improvement.
“Other aims of the project include developing cocoa yield validation in Nigeria, disseminate research findings to farmers”, he said.
He added that the project had trained about 126 extension agents and 28,000 farmers.