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NEPC laments backward slide in cocoa production

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The Director-General, Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Olusegun Awolowo, has lamented what he described as the backward slide by Nigeria in the production of cocoa.

Awolowo, who made the comment while defending NEPC’s 2021 budgetary allocation before the James Fakeye-led House of Representatives Committee on Commerce, said it was shameful that the country still produced fewer than 300,000 metric tonnes of the cash crop annually.

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This, according to him, is nowhere compared to the quantum of cocoa produced by less endowed neighbouring countries like Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire often invited to the summit of cocoa producing nations of the world.
He lamented that Nigeria, with the capacity to be the leading cocoa-producing nation of the world due to its vast landscape, does not get invited to summits of cocoa-producing nations due to the situation.

Underlining the need to boost foreign exchange from exports of non-oil products, Awolowo recalled that the defunct Western Region utilised proceeds from cocoa to put in place landmark infrastructure and programmes, including the first television station in the country and free education, in the 1960s.

Ruling out the possibility of Nigeria becoming a dumping ground for imported manufactured products in the years ahead, the DG insisted that the country has the capacity to dominate the African market in the near future.

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Awolowo, who decried the country’s overdependence on the oil as the mainstay of the economy, said that his outfit had put in place a zero oil plan which has identified 23 three products to earn foreign exchange for the country.

He told the lawmakers that a national committee on export promotion chaired by Governor Mohammed Abubakar of Jigawa State had been tasked to ensure that each of the 36 states produces at least one product to earn foreign exchange for the country.

Fakeye (APC: Osun) expressed concern over the exodus of manufacturing outfits from Nigeria to neighbouring countries like Ghana.

He charged the NEPC to put in place proactive measures to boost foreign exchange for the country, maintaining that no country can attain socio-economic growth without a functional manufacturing sector.

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