Akin Olusuyi, Chairman, Cocoa Processors Association of Nigeria (COPAN) has lamented that the absence of an institutional framework for the Nigeria’s cocoa economy is being exploited by foreign operators on the local scene to the detriment of indigenous players along the value chain in Nigeria.
Olusuyi in an interview with INDEPENDENT stressed that the country cannot get it right with the cocoa economy in general without creating institutions to drive its activities along the value chain.
He said lack of a structured framework that should provide policy guidance and direction to the cocoa value chain in the country to achieve its full economic potential as obtainable in various other cocoa processing countries should be quickly addressed.
According to him, “Lack of structured framework that should provide policy guidance and direction to the cocoa value chain in the country to achieve its full economic potential as obtainable in various degrees in other Cocoa-producing countries like Ivory Coast, Ghana, Indonesia among others should be addressed and quickly too,” he said.
He said the country needs private sector driven cocoa value chain regulatory institutions that will address the many distortions in the market along the value chain.
“The benefits of this to the development and sustainability of our cocoa economy far outweighs the aggregate of the temporary benefits accruing to individuals who are exploiting the distortions and confusion currently being experienced in the industry.
Olusuyi also said if Nigeria is serious about taking fuller advantage of the cocoa economy, it should pay more serious attention to value addition through processing rather than pride itself as raw bean exporters
“If we are serious about taking fuller advantage of our cocoa economy we should pay serious attention to value addition through processing rather than pride ourselves as raw beans exporters. This is one link in the value chain where these two economic growth factors are more pronounced. How much capital does the raw bean export form for example and what level of employment does it require?
He said the Nigerian cocoa processing industry, comprising of both functional and non-functional factories, estimated at more than N75 billion today, has played a significant role in the growth of the Nigerian economy.
According to him; “It is one of the few non-oil industrial sectors that still provide significant input to the country’s foreign exchange generation, GDP and employment. The activities involved in the processing of cocoa beans into its intermediate products (butter, cake, liquor and powder) and further processing into various consumer products have multiplier effects on employment generation.
He noted that each cocoa processing factory employs at least an average of 200 people and up to 1,000 indirectly and that the multiplier effects of the sector on local industries stimulate local economies of host communities and states.
“They also contribute to enhancing local consumption of cocoa-based products as major suppliers to large and smaller beverage factories. In addition, as the consumer products being produced become established in the local and in the long run, in the international markets, there will be a demand pull on cocoa beans and the intermediate products. This will eventually encourage increased production as well as help to stabilise the prices of cocoa beans and the intermediate products; butter, cake, liquor and powder,” he added.