President Muhammadu Buhari, has expressed regrets concerning the neglect of the cocoa sector over the years, by the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh.
Recall, that Audu Ogbeh is the oldest Minister in Buhari’s cabinet.
Buhari said this at the First International Cocoa Summit, organised by the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment, in collaboration with the Cocoa Association of Nigeria, CAN, in Abuja, on Monday.
He appealed to stakeholders to join hands with the Federal Government, to improve the production, packaging, and marketing, of non-oil export commodities.
“I am not happy, because this sector has suffered neglect, as a result of over reliance on crude oil.
“Government is working hard to improve the business environment for local and foreign investors, as well as encouraging the development of domestic consumption.
“The Federal Government is committed to restoring the agricultural and industrial sector to its prime position, and I call on all stakeholders to key into the government policy of promotion of non-oil export, as an alternative source of revenue.
“I wish to assure you that the implementation of our reforms of the Ease of Doing Business will be the backbone of the repositioning of the cocoa sub-sector in Nigeria”, he said.
In his words, Ogbeh said that Federal Government was planning a re-launch of cocoa production in the South-West part of the country.
The Minister, who said that Ondo and Cross River States produced 60 percent of cocoa in the country, appealed to other States to join in the production, to promote non-oil export.
The President, Cocoa Association of Nigeria, CAN, Mr Sayina Riman, said that a five-year strategic plan would be formulated at the end of the Conference, to move the sector forward.
“This sector is apt, because we will arrive at a document to upscale Nigeria cocoa production.”
Jean-Marc Anga, the Executive Director, International Cocoa Organisation, said the organisation would assist the country in the implementation of its action plan on cocoa.
Anga said that research and development was a major driving force towards improving cocoa production in Nigeria.
“We will assist Nigeria to develop a plan on cocoa, but the emphasis should be on quality and value addition”, Anga said.