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Nigeria's cocoa sector is still waiting

Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - 01:40

With low oil prices hurting Nigeria's economy the government's looking to other products - like cocoa - to boost the economy. But, as Hayley Platt reports, they're not finding it easy.

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Its oil producers have been getting all the attention recently. But Nigeria is also the world's fourth largest cocoa producer. With oil prices low the government is keen to boost agriculture. But it's not been easy. The sector has been hit by a number factors, including dry weather and the government's foreign exchange policies. Akin Olusuyi's plant can process 30,000 tonnes - last year output was just 4,000. (SOUNDBITE) (English) AKIN OLUSUYI, COCOA PRODUCTS (ILE-OLUJI) MANAGING DIRECTOR SAYING: "There are about eight processing factories in Nigeria and I think as I'm talking now, there are only about three or four of us are in operation. We are just surviving not living really." The agriculture ministry wants to plant 2 million cocoa trees over three years and triple output to 1 million tonnes. That's almost halve the output of the Ivory Coast - the world's top producer. But those policies aren't even new - they were drawn up by the previous administration. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ROBO ADHUSE, COCOA CONSULTANT SAYING: "We're looking forward to quick intervention, quick action from the government to act fast, even if it is by policy statements but we have not seen that yet." Nigeria's current government has allocated 30 billion dollars of this year's budget to infrastructure to try and end its reliance on oil. But political wrangling is holding things up. So are the banks - they're not lending enough to the sector. But Nigeria's cocoa output is set to rise this season, helped by one key factor. Some farmers have seen prices more than double over the past year thanks to demand from India and China. That's allowed them to reinvest profits in fertilizer and pesticides.

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Nigeria's cocoa sector is still waiting

Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - 01:40