How To Start A Lucrative Cocoa Farming Business In Nigeria: The Complete Guide
Until the discovery of oil, cocoa was one of the major economic backbones of Nigeria and several other African countries. Today, the narrative isn’t the same, but that does not negate the fact that cocoa business still strives globally.
Cocoa, otherwise known as cacao bean, is the dried and fermented seed of the cocoa tree known as Theobroma cacao. Cocoa is the major source of chocolates, and many other beverages consumed worldwide. The cocoa plant traces back to the Amazon Basin in South America, and is commonly found in countries such as Mexico, Venezuela and Columbia.
Today, cocoa is grown and produced worldwide, specifically in countries around the Equator such as Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon. Global production of cocoa as of 2019/2020 has dropped to 4,824 at a value of $US9,693.10 but has been projected to grow to US$14,819.37 by 2025 at a CAGR of 1.8%. The West African countries account for as high as 70% of global cocoa production. Ghana and Ivory Coast both contribute a combined whopping 50% to global production of cocoa. Ivory Coast remains the largest producer of cocoa. In 2016/2017, the Francophone country churned out over 2 million metric tonnes of cocoa. On the other hand, the United States is the leading importer of cocoa (21% of global importation), followed by Germany and Belgium.
Within the last 10 years, Nigeria has remained among the top 5 producers of cocoa. In 2019, 200,000 metric tonnes of cocoa was produced, valued at $740 million. Cocoa makes up only 2% of Nigeria’s exports, but it remains the third largest export product from Nigeria, behind Crude oil and petroleum gas.
The downward dive in Nigeria’s production of cocoa is caused by several factors including poor policies, limited farming resources for cocoa farmers, among other factors, but the sector holds a lot of promise for the Nigerian industry at large and individual businesspersons if the challenges are attended. Are you looking to start a lucrative cocoa farming business in Nigeria? You will find a detailed guide on how to go about it as you read on.
What Is Cocoa?
Also known as ‘cocoa bean’, cocoa is the fermented and dried seed of the cocoa plant mainly grown in West African countries. The seeds are processed when dried for production of chocolates, candies, beverages and beverage drinks.
What Is Cocoa Farming?
Cocoa farming refers to the process of planting and cultivating the cocoa plant for its economically valued products.
Business Opportunities In Cocoa Farming Business In Nigeria And Around The World
1). Chocolate Production:
Chocolate and candy production is one of the many ways cocoa beans are used. It involves the process of making chocolate products out of cocoa. The end products might appear in different forms such as chocolate bars, chocolate candies, chocolate drinks, and so on. The steps often include cleaning, roasting, shelling and grinding, among others. Chocolate products are in high demands in most parts of the world, especially in the USA. Chocolates are consumed both by adults and young ones, hence its constant demand.
2). Beverage And Snacks Production:
Chocolates are also further processed to give end beverage drinks as well as edible snacks packaged by several companies and businesses. Thanks to its yummy taste, cocoa never runs out of demand in all of its forms. It can also be used in the snack production industry for the production of cakes. It is now commonly used as a flavour in other snack foods.
3). Cosmetics Production:
Cocoa is not consumed as edible substances only. The cocoa shell contains skin-friendly substances and antioxidants, which are extracted to make skincare products such as body cream. In addition to its health benefits, the unique smell is another reason for the high demand of cocoa cosmetic products worldwide.
4). Marketing And Distribution Of Cocoa Seeds:
For local farmers and international traders of cocoa, marketing and distribution of cocoa seeds and its by-products is a wonderful business opportunity. A bag of cocoa in Nigeria is valued at about N50,000 or more as of 2020. Distributors and marketers nationwide and worldwide have a field day transporting the cocoa seeds in heavy bags and trucks to areas where they’re processed or exported to countries which demand them.
Facts And Benefits Of Cocoa
- The term ‘cocoa’ originated from the Nahuatl word “cacahuatl”.
- Cocoa was introduced to Europe by the Spanish in the 16th century.
- Cocoa is rich in polyphenols, antioxidants which aid blood flow.
- The Nitric Oxide in cocoa helps to decrease high blood pressure.
- Cocoa reduces risks of heart attack and stroke because it is rich in Flavanol.
- The Flavanol content in cocoa also helps to control brain degeneration.
- Cocoa has a natural nutrient that stabilizes the mood and increases calmness.
- Cocoa can reduce type 2 diabetes despite its sugar content.
- Cocoa reduces inflammation and appetite because it makes you feel full.
- Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Indonesia, Nigeria and Cameroon are the biggest producers of cocoa.
- In Nigeria, Ondo, Ogun, Akwa Ibom, Ekiti, and Osun states are some of the biggest producers of cocoa in Nigeria.
- The theophylline substance in cocoa can reduce asthmatic inflammations.
- Consuming cocoa can improve your skin texture and help you stay hydrated.
- Cocoa can be added to other foods such as puddings and smoothies.
- The ancient Mayan people called cocoa ‘the food of the gods’.
- Cocoa contains micronutrients such as potassium and manganese.
- Cocoa has been found to prevent the growth of cancer cells.
- Paradoxically, cocoa helps to maintain good dental health.
- Cocoa beans were once used as a monetary unit among the Mayans.
- About 70% of global cocoa production today is from Africa.
- A cocoa tree stands at about 13 to 26 ft tall.
- When they attain full maturity, cocoa trees can live for as long as 100 years.
Types Of Cocoa
The three major varieties of cocoa are:
1). Criollo Cocoa Bean:
The criollo cocoa bean evolved from the Amazon basin. It gives off a unique flavour but has limited productivity. They are rare and are available in very few countries.
2). Forastero Cocoa Bean:
The Forastero cocoa bean also evolved from the Amazon basin but produces greater yield than the Criollo variety. The seeds are harder, but the taste is rather bland. The forastero cocoa is often used to make non-edible products such as cream while the tastier varieties are used to make chocolates.
3). Trinitario Cocoa Bean:
This variety is considered a product of cross-pollination. They have features of both the criollo variety and the Forastero variety. They are harder than criollo but also tastier than forastero cocoa beans. They also have a higher resistance to diseases and weather factors than the criollo variety.
How To Start A Cocoa Farming Business In Nigeria: Step-By-Step Guide
Starting a cocoa farm in Nigeria requires the following steps:
1). Get A Farmland:
The size of the farmland depends on your budget, but the land must have suitable soil for cocoa farming. It must also be situated in an area with a favourable climate. Prepare the land by clearing, pruning and applying fertilizer to it. Cocoa does not thrive well in a sunny environment, so you must provide shades from other trees for it. More so, it requires an abundance of rainfall of about 100 to 250 cm all year round.
2). Planting And Maintenance:
Typically, you should plant the cocoa nursery between October and January and later transplant within April and June the following year. After planting, take time to weed carefully around the young plant as it grows. Be careful when applying pesticides, so you don’t kill the plant.
3). Harvesting And Processing:
Cocoa takes about three to five years before the first yield. When the pods are mature, you can use a sickle to pluck off the ripe ones carefully. Collect all the plucked pods in a basket and, afterwards, remove the seeds from the pods. After removal, pack the seeds in a box and leave them to ferment for about 5 to 7 days before spreading them in the sun to dry. Drying may take about a week or two, depending on the temperature. After drying, the seeds are ready for distribution and marketing.
Challenges Of Cocoa Farming Business In Nigeria
- Cocoa requires heavy human labour
- Difficulty in controlling pest and diseases
- Lack of access to fertilizers and pesticides
- Fluctuation in the prices of cocoa
- Cocoa plant is not weather-tolerant. It cannot withstand hot weather.
- Limited government assistance for local farmers
- Difficulty in reaching the international cocoa market.
- Insufficient storage space for cocoa seeds
- Poor road networks for distribution and marketing of cocoa.
- Bush burning in some parts where cocoa farming is done
- Absence of loan facilities for farmers
- Absence of legislative aids for dealers in cocoa
- Environmental hazards such as soil erosion.
To Sum It Up
Despite the neglect of cocoa in Nigeria, it still forms a significant part of our national revenue. Cocoa has been projected to increase both in yield and value by the year 2025. It would be a wise step both for the government and individual farmers to invest in cocoa farming. If the attention is refocused to cocoa again, the Nigerian economy would be better off.
The cocoa farming business in Nigeria can be a lucrative and profitable venture to start-up, due to its vast market demand and on your ability to build a wide sales network. If you’re looking for a lucrative business to venture into, the cocoa farming business in Nigeria is a great option to explore.
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