Eti-Oni Sets for annual Cocoa festival
To reposition Nigeria’s cocoa industry, Eti-Oni, a cocoa producing community in Osun State, would host cocoa farmers and experts in its 2018 Cocoa Festival scheduled for next weekend.
The Olooni of Eti-Oni, Oba Dokun Thompson, a cocoa exporter, told journalists in Lagos, that during the festival, farmers will be trained on hand pollination techniques, as a way to multiply production right from the trees.
He said: “Our main objective and vision is to build a sustainable model, smart town using the cocoa economy, which is why we are turning things around. We are taking cocoa festival around the world as a way of building bridges between production and consumption, to encourage bilateral relationship and cultural exchange.
“Eti-Oni Development Group started the Nigerian cocoa awards last year. The awards are two-sided — one that awards people not directly involved in cocoa production, but have supportive industry within the industry, while the second is for cocoa farmers that are producing different cocoa bean flavour.
“There is an international cocoa award that comes up every two years; the winners are announced in Paris. We are the national organising committee and because of our production capacity in Nigeria, we are entering some cocoa beans, so that, the Nigerian cocoa beans can also be known across the globe.”
The traditional ruler condemned government’s 10-year cocoa plan meant to develop the sector, noting that any policy that is not backed with action is hopeless and meaningless.
“I have not seen the details of the 10-year cocoa plan, but we have many plans in Nigeria. When you don’t grow things organically, then you run into problems. What is the benefit of achieving one million tones? Is it to bring down prices to $1000 or $500 per ton? They have not achieved 500,000 tons, they are talking of one million tons how. Who are the people that will grow and harvest them?
“In 2012 and 2013, 800,000 to one million seedlings were given out for free to cocoa farmers; the production capacity went up then because there was a lot of encouragement. But right now, the situation is different.
“A few years back, they were saying they wanted to overtake Ghana and Ivory Coast, as the largest producers. At that time, Ivory Coast was producing about 800,000 tons. Today, Ivory Coast has moved to 1.2million per annum, that on its own had its own effect; it crashed prices and they lost $300,000 in their cocoa pricing. But on the positive side, they moved from where they were to becoming the largest processor.
“The only thing that can drive our economy is manufacturing. It is what will add value to the economy, create jobs, sustain the industries and production.”