Nigeria’s cocoa production has dropped by 5.2 per cent from 248,000 metric tonnes in the 2013/2014 planting season to 235,000 metric tonnes in the 2014/2015 season, according to information gathered from stakeholders in the cocoa value chain.
Stakeholders had expected an increase to about 350,000 metric tonnes for the 2014/2015 season following the distribution of improved seedlings by the Federal Government with a target to increase yield and make the country the largest producer of cocoa in Africa before the year 2020, and to develop a globally competitive manufacturing industry around the Nigerian cocoa bean.
Cocoa is currently the country’s leading agricultural export, while Nigeria is the world’s fourth largest producer of the commodity after Ivory Coast, Indonesia and Ghana, and third largest exporter after Ivory Coast and Ghana.
Analysts noted that cocoa prices in the international market had risen but that supply would be a major challenge for producers in the coming years due to increasing demand.
The Federal Government, during the last administration, had targeted a yearly increase that would raise production to around 700,000 metric tonnes this year and one million metric tonnes in 2020 by distributing early-maturing, high-yielding and disease-resistant beans that mature in about 18 months to farmers to replace seedlings with four to five years maturity rate.
“We have distributed more than 140 million seedlings of high-yielding cocoa varieties to recapitalise the cocoa plantations, because they are old. That will give us a yield of almost five times. By 2020, Nigeria should be certainly in the one million metric tonnes cocoa production club,” the former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, had said in 2014.
The National Vice President, Cocoa Association of Nigeria, Cross River/Akwa Ibom zone, Mr. Godwin Ukwu, said the decline in production was not unconnected with aging trees and illegal mining on cocoa farms.
He said, “The ages of the trees are going down and production is declining, and there is no support from the government in any way to rehabilitate or replant the cocoa and it is affecting production.
“There is a difference between the government trying to do something and doing what it has to do. Last year, a lot of the seedlings did not get to many farmers. The government needs to ensure that its intervention gets to the farmers through monitoring to get the seedlings to the real farmers who need them and not to political farmers.”
According to Ukwu, production also went down in other cocoa producing countries such as Ghana, where the yield dropped from the usual 900,000 to one million metric tonnes to 700,000 metric tonnes.
Ukwu said if something was not done urgently about the production, demand would be more than supply, leading to more pressure on the farmers.
A consultant and Chief Operating Officer, Centre for Cocoa Development Initiative, Mr. Robo Adhuze, said increased rainfall would help production in the current season.
“We are expecting the weather to get better; we are trying to track rainfall across the country; when it begins to rain properly, it will get better. Across board, we are having issues,” he said.
According to Adhuze, despite the fact that cocoa prices are currently soaring in the international market, hovering between $2,900 and $3,000 per metric tonne, production across board is expected to drop in the next few years.
He said, “Prices are soaring in the international market, which is normal, because we are expecting a drop in production in the next four years and consumers are looking for more with the downward production trend.
“The weather and then the demand from East Asian countries such as India and China are also not helping the situation. More people are consuming more cocoa products, but production is going down.”
According to reports, the demand for cocoa is predicted to rise by 30 per cent by 2020, but without empowering and investing in small-scale farmers, the industry will struggle to provide sufficient supply.
A report by The Guardian of the United Kingdom indicated that steady growth over the last 100 years had transformed the chocolate confectionary market into an $80bn a year global industry, but that with demand expected to exceed supply, a crisis was looming for the industry.
The report stated, “Around 3.5 million tonnes of cocoa are produced each year. But rising incomes in emerging markets like India and China, combined with anticipated economic recovery in the rich North, have led to industry forecast of 30 per cent growth in demand to more than 4.5 million tonnes by 2020. This should be good news for farmers and businesses alike.
“But complacency and disregard for the livelihoods of more than five million small-scale family farmers who grow 90 per cent of the world’s cocoa mean that the industry may simply be unable to provide sufficient supply to meet the demand.”
According to Adhuze, the Nigerian situation is compounded by economic factors such as unstable foreign exchange.
“Nigerian cocoa investors are not smiling, as they get the money, they pay more to reinvest,” he said.
The Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Mr. Segun Awolowo, said 2015 was generally not a good year for agricultural production in the country.
According to him, a drop in production will adversely affect the target to increase yield.
“We need to scale up production; the idea is to surpass Ivory Coast and Ghana. Ghana is already at 700,000 metric tonnes, and we are still hovering around 240,000 metric tonnes but the idea was to get to 500,000 metric tonnes in the next few years,” he said.
FG Includes Emirates Airlines in Restricted Flights
FG Restricts Emirates Airlines From Flying Nigeria
The Federal Government on Friday said it has included Emirates Airlines in the list of airlines not allowed to fly into Nigeria as part of measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria.
Hadi Sirika, the Minister of Aviation, disclosed this via his official Twitter handle on Friday.
According to him, the decision was taken after a meeting between members of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and European Union ambassadors.
The minister said the ban would take effect on Monday, September 21, 2020.
“The PTF sub-committee met today with EU Ambassadors to discuss Lufthansa, Air France/KLM ban. The meeting progressed well. Emirates Airlines’s situation was reviewed & they are consequently included in the list of those not approved, with effect from Monday the 21st September 2020,” Hadi Sirika tweeted.
“The PTF sub committee met today with EU Ambassadors to discuss Lufthansa, Air France/KLM ban. The meeting progressed well. Emirates Airlines’s situation was reviewed & they are consequently included in the list of those not approved, with effect from Monday the 21st Sept. 2020.”
FG to Absorb Exited N-power Beneficiaries into New Program
Exited N-power Beneficiaries to Be Absorbed into Another Program
The Federal Government has commenced plans to absorb exited N-power beneficiaries into a new program in an effort to help them eke a living.
Sadiya Umar Farouq, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, made the statement at an interactive forum with state focal persons of the National Social Investment Programmes in Abuja.
She said: “As we renew our commitment to the service of humanity, I will like to cease this opportunity to once again state that we have successfully exited Batch A and B of the N-Power beneficiaries in June and July respectively and we are still working towards ensuring a transition plan that will further engage or absorb them into other programmes.”
Sadiya also stated that the selection process of the Batch C N-power application will be thorough and base on merit.
“We have also received over 5 million applications from proposed N-Power Batch C and we are currently in the process of selecting the qualified beneficiaries coming into the programme.
“I assure all the applicants and Nigerians that the selection process will be transparent,” she said.
She added that, “I wish to reiterate that I have given approval for the payment of stipends for the exited beneficiaries of batches A and B up to the month of June 2020 including that of the independent monitors. Also, the final payment of stipend for Batch B is almost ready for transmission to the office of the Accountant General of the Federation for final checks and payment.
The minister urged state coordinators to discharge their duties diligently and not let her down.
“It is against this background that I urge everyone of you to continue to give in your best to ensure the lives of those we are called to serve are made better.
“We must not lose sight of the fact that each one of the vulnerable persons are not mere numbers or statistics but real people with dreams, hopes, aspirations and a desire to live decent lives in peace and safety,” he submitted.
FG Says All Airports Are Now Open for Domestic Flight Operations
All Airports Are Now Open for Domestic Flight Operations Says FG
The Federal Government on Monday said all airports in the country are officially open for domestic flight operations.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, during the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Monday in Abuja.
Hadi, however, noted that operators flying into private-owned airports must know the status of such airports.
Speaking at the PTF Briefing, the minister said there is no need for flight approval within Nigeria again as all airports are now opened for domestic operations.
He said, “All airports in Nigeria are now open for domestic flights, including those that are for private charter operations.
“They (operators) will no longer need approvals from us to operate domestically within government-owned airports. However, for the private airports, operators should check their safety status with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.
“Such airports are Jalingo, Uyo, Asaba, Gombe, Nasarawa, Damaturu, Osubi, etc. So you don’t need any approval from the minister, but you should check the status of these airports with the NCAA.”
Commenting on international chartered flights, the minister said they need approvals to flight out of the country.
He said, “All flights out of the country that are private charter will still need approvals for those kind of flights, including technical stops.
“So with this, it means that the approvals that are sent via the NCAA, NAMA and myself will cease and if there is any change, it will be so advised accordingly.”
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