The Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN) has said that it is doing a lot in terms of educating farmers, processors and all the people along the value chain to make sure that Nigeria has zero rejection of its cocoa beans in the international market.
The Executive Director/CEO, CRIN, Dr. Patrick Adebola who confirmed this while speaking with journalists on the sidelines of the CocoaSoils Forum held at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan recently revealed that some of Nigeria’s exports were being rejected because of pesticide residue adding that the institute had organized about four training this year alone to educate cocoa farmers on best agricultural practices ranging from planting to harvesting to processing to exporting.
“One of the best agricultural practices which we train people and the farmers is to make sure that they don’t just pump any chemical into their cocoa farms. Those agrochemicals, some of them are not even recommended, so we teach them the recommended agrochemicals.
“Apart from the recommended ones, we also teach them how regular they need to spray their farms so that they don’t over spray it. As they over spray, rains can come and wash the chemicals into the streams and rivers thereby getting those streams and rivers polluted and at the end of the day, you will see that there are some certain pesticides that when you use them, their active ingredients will persist in the cocoa beans.
“So, at the point of export, when they test it, they will see the pesticide residue and that is why our cocoa beans are being rejected in the international market. But the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria is doing a lot in terms of educating farmers, processors and all the people along the value chain to make sure that we have zero rejection of our cocoa beans in the international market”, he explained.
Speaking on the essence of the CocoaSoils Forum, Dr. Adebola noted that the project was focusing mainly on soil fertility management of cocoa, looking at soil of cocoa and how problems associated with the declining soil fertility as well as the degradation of the cocoa soils could be resolved.
He said, “You may be aware that there are lots of factors contributing to the reduction of yield in cocoa across West Africa, not only Nigeria. Most of those trees are old, some of them are over 40 to 50 years old and therefore, it is natural that we see that the soil fertility will start to decline.
“The project is aimed at helping those farmers to ameliorate the declining soil fertility and ensure that the cocoa farms are brought to fruition once again. In the past, the focus has been on the pests and diseases that are contributing to the decline. There are lots of projects that focus on diseases and pests of cocoa.
This is a very good one now, the CocoaSoils NORAD project is now looking at the soils which is coming at the right time. If the soil is not fertile, there is no how the trees will get their maximum yield. That is why this project is very important to Nigeria.
“The emphasis now is to reduce deforestation so that the impact on the environment will be reduced. Yes, I understand that farmers are looking for fertile soil thereby cutting down new trees and cutting down new forests in order to plant new cocoa and that is one of the reasons this project is being sponsored by NORAD. When you increase the fertility of the soil and bring the existing cocoa trees to fruition, there will be no need of looking for virgin lands to plant your cocoa.
On whether or not Nigeria will catch up with other leading cocoa producing countries in the nearest future, he said, “Very well, I believe that very soon, we catch up with Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. Nigeria used to be number one sometimes in the 1970s and in the 80s and there’s no reason why we cannot come back to that particular point. For us catching up with Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, we can do.
“The institute has already produced improved varieties of cocoa pods which can yield very well and they are resistant to pests and diseases and if we encourage the planting of those improved varieties, using them to rehabilitate old farms, it’s possible we are going to catch up with them.”
Photo: Dr. Patrick Adebola, Executive Director/CEO, Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN).
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