In 2011 scientists estimated the production of cocoa in Nigeria would reach 1 million tons by 2022.
The country will fall far short of that number this year, with production hovering around 280,000 to 300,000 tons.
When the scientists calculated the projections, they had just launched 8 new varieties of cocoa pods that had a much higher yield than the ones currently used by farmers, leading to the increased production forecast.
Nigeria once had big ambitions for increasing their cocoa harvests until the more lucrative industry of oil was discovered in the country, and subsequent support for the projects waned.
Typically, a farmer in Nigeria can expect to get a yield of circa 0.5 tonnes a year for each hectare of land. The new varieties of seedlings introduced in 2011 can produce 1.5 to 2.0 tonnes per hectare annually.
They are also much better at resisting pests and disease like the black pod disease as an additional benefit.
Another commercial benefit is the varieties mature faster – in around two years, down from three or four for the traditional variety the farmers currently work with.
Soji Oduwole, Director of the Economics and Statistics Department of the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria, explained last December to Dow Jones Newswire that, with the Federal government providing financial assistance, 600,000 seedlings of the new varieties had been distributed across the cocoa producing states, and were now starting to mature and produce in a small scale.