Cocoa happens to be the major source of Nigeria’s wealth in 1950s and 1960s, with Nigeria having to be fourth largest producer and third largest exporter. Anyways, since the discovery of oil, our cocoa production depleted drastically and accounted for only 0.3% of agricultural GDP.
In what seem to be like going back to first love, and leading the space is the Cross River state Governor, Professor Ben Ayade, who is said to be erupting the first cocoa processing plant in Africa.
With Chocolate, which is the major end product of cocoa, having a global import value of $28billion and Africa spending about 60 million dollars importing chocolate, this movement by the governor of Cross River state is worth venturing.
In view of this we decided to interview Enomi Isaiah, a young lady cocoa farmer in Cross river as she shared challenges and how the government can assist in ensuring maximum production when this project is set and ready to commence.
Let’s meet you
My names are ENOMI ISAIAH EFFIONG… I am a coca farmer in Cross river state and I’ve been in the business for Eight (8)years now.
What are your current capacity or what is the volume of your harvest and over a period of what time?
The capacity I’m operating on is low for now, I harvest up to 6 or 7 bags per year and right now, I am preserving it till October. I am only harvesting the black pod and the over ripped ones now so that it will not stain others with diseases… I am planning to do the whole harvest in October.
Ok great, so what will you say are your major challenges in cocoa farming?
The challenges are quite enormous, ranging fromthe black pod diseases, which is one of the major challenges I face. Then secondly, buying of chemicals. Chemicals are quite expensive as well. Others are clearing of the farm and ploughing, which has resulted in my low production.
Talking about the chemicals; what are the chemicals you use and how expensive are they?
Chemical like Fungikill, it is used for the prevention of black pod and it costs us 400 naira per packet. Then Gamalene, which is used to prevent cocoa from insecticide and it costs 1000 naira each…
So, how many of these chemicals do you use every year?
Each of it, I will need up to 30.
After harvesting the cocoa, what next?
After harvesting we break the cocoa, put them inside bag to the field to dry them… After drying the cocoa very well, we then look for buyers to buy them…
And how much do you sell?
A bag is 39,000 naira here in Biko LGA.
Why did you choose farming and cocoa precisely?
I chose cocoa farming because there is no job and as a lady I need to struggle and feed, a lot of ladies are into other businesses but I chose cocoa farming because a lot of people are not aware of how important cocoa is in life, many men are into it but very few female because of the hard work in it.
Seeing that the governor of your state is erupting a cocoa processing plant, what are your expectations?
My expectation is for government to help us establish a larger farm for cultivation, and also render financial assistance to help us do the business effectively, providing chemicals in large quantities to make our production output meaningful. With this in place, we can have enough income as a state and also to take care of our families and other things.
What is your advice for someone that wants to venture into cocoa farming?
My advice to someone going into farming like me is to focus and have passion for it because it requires man power and finance…