The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah has appealed to development partners and stakeholders in cocoa farming to join hands with the Federal Government to revitalize and reposition cocoa production in Nigeria so as to revive its lost glory and Cocoa to take its rightful place not only in Africa but in the world.
The Minister made this remark at the 1st International Cocoa Summit held in Abuja, Nigeria with the theme “Cocoa, A Strategic Commodity for National Economic Development.”
The aim of the Summit, according to the Minister is to create an enabling environment for all stakeholders to strategise and map out the way forward towards repositioning and restructuring the Cocoa revitalization initiative. He further said that Government which will come up with an action plan to kick start the implementation of Cocoa revolution geared towards reviving the lost glory of Nigeria as a leader among the committee of Cocoa producing nations of the world.
The Minister reiterated the drive of the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari to diversify the economy through Agriculture and Mining sectors.
Enelamah also reiterated the need to urgently reposition Cocoa production especially to encourage local consumption and to boost foreign exchange earnings. The Minister also encouraged Nigerians to consume Cocoa because “It’s a source of medicine to health challenges such as diabetes cancer and high blood pressure.”
The Minister also called on Cocoa farmers to avail themselves of the new technologies and innovation available to improve their products to be able to compete at both local and international markets. He commended the Cocoa Association of Nigeria (CAN) for their doggedness to forge ahead despite challenges of funds and attention on the part of Government. He added that “There is a new dawn now for partnership and support to revive its lost glory.”
Dr. Enelamah further encouraged farmers to take opportunity of various agricultural funding schemes made available by Central Bank and other financial institutions at very low interest rate to achieve sustainability.
The President of Cocoa Association of Nigeria, Sayima R. Riman in a welcome remark, expressed appreciation to the Ministry and Ministers of Industry, Trade and Investment for their continuous support and commitment rendered so far to their association and like Oliver twist, he said “We cannot stop asking for more.” He solicited for the support of Federal Government to make their dreams of reviving Cocoa production in Nigeria come true, through policies formulation and implementation on the part of Government.
The Executive Director of International Cocoa Organization, Dr. Jean-Marc Anga admonished Nigerians to seize the opportunity of their population to boost Cocoa production and consumption. He said that Nigeria has the potentials of being number one in Africa, given the favorable climatic conditions and strength. He urged the Government to revitalize Cocoa Research Institutes to meet up with world standard and quality.
President Muhammadu Buhari who was represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Chief Audu Ogbe commended the organizers of the event for their timely intervention, considering the drive of his administration to diversify the economy through agricultural value chains which Cocoa, is the prime target. He reiterated the support of his Government and the willingness to collaborate with all stakeholders to see to the implementation of all decisions and communiqué arrived at, at the end of the Summit. He also welcomed investors both local and international, to come invest in Cocoa initiative saying that the Government is ready to fast track the ease of doing business in Nigeria in order to create jobs.
Goodwil message from the Senate President, Dr.Bukola Saraki represented by Senator Abubakar Yusuf admonished all stakeholders to work together to achieve these goals of reviving Cocoa production in Nigeria, given all the potentials and resources blessed by Nigeria. He disclosed the readiness of the National Assembly to make relevant laws to back these initiatives of Government.
For: Deputy-Director, Press, FMITI