By Ikenna Osuoha
The Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has urged state governments to engage in resuscitation of cocoa produce for export, to reduce over dependence on petroleum.
Mrs Azuka Ikejiofor, Zonal Coordinator of the council, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that cocoa produce and export were key to economic diversification.
Ikejiofor noted that cocoa had remained consistently profitable for several decades and rated as one of the best in terms of cash crops.
“Available records have proved cocoa and cocoa product earning was 338.17 million dollars, accounting for 20.8 per cent of the total non-oil export for Nigeria in 2015.
” And 242.23 million dollars, representing 20.13 per cent in the year 2016,” she said.
The coordinator, who described cocoa as alternative to oil, recalled that Nigeria was leading in cocoa in Africa until 1984.
Ikejiofor urged oil producing states to look beyond oil for a viable economy.
According to her, states like Bayelsa should rise above oil by embracing cocoa produce in line with our zero-oil plan initiative.
She said that the council was working in collaboration with Adekunle Ajasin University, Ondo for increased production and distribution of seedlings to farmers.
Ikejiofor, however, said that the council would continue to promote capacity building on improved processing to achieve premium cocoa export.
Ghana and Côte D’ Voire are West Africa’s leading cocoa export countries.