The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the Food for Progress project, which will provide $22 million in agricultural assistance to Cocoa farmers in six states in southern Nigeria.

So far, about 68,000 Cocoa farmers from Osun, Ekiti, Abia, Cross River, Akwa Ibom and Ondo States are expected to benefit from the project. The selected locations vary between areas with low productivity but high potential and those where productivity is high and communities are densely populated.

The aim of the programme, which will be implemented over the next five years, is to provide access to better agricultural inputs, improved technical resources, capacity building, post-harvest processing and export marketing.

The United States Consulate stated that the project is in partnership with Lutheran World Relief, an international non-governmental organisation.

The programme takes a two-pronged approach, seeking to increase Cocoa production in the selected areas through modern and sustainable farming practices. 

The primary objective of the Food for Progress programme is to increase Cocoa productivity by leveraging climate-smart agricultural measures.

U.S. Consulate

Gerald Smith, the counsellor for Agricultural Affairs at U.S. Mission, supported this, saying the project would enable farmers to produce more cacao while preserving the land’s fertility and biodiversity.

Nigeria is the fourth largest Cocoa producer in the world and aims to have the highest cocoa production in West Africa. The country has recently set a target of producing 500,000 tonnes of Cocoa beans in the next two years and is clearly aiming for a more prominent position in the Cocoa industry.

Nigerian Cocoa farmers are also hoping to benefit from the Living Income Differential that neighbouring Cocoa producers in Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire currently receive. 

The new programme will undoubtedly bolster Nigeria’s Cocoa sector, though it is still far behind the top two Cocoa producers, who currently make up 50% of global Cocoa production.

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