Despite being the fourth largest cocoa exporter in the world, Nigeria’s production has been stagnant for years. In part, the lucrative discovery of oil is to blame, as cocoa’s contribution to GDP declined severely, accounting for a mere 0.3% of agriculture GDP in 2010.
As China successfully exported their first cocoa beans to Europe 8 months ago, some in Nigeria are worried they may be becoming complacent. Nigeria has let their seedling farms go to weed or be sold for construction. Crop yields are low and they don’t have the infrastructure to roll out changes at scale. In 2020, Nigeria produced 245,000 tonnes of cocoa compared to Ghana’s 742,000 tonnes.
Observers noted Ghana’s move away from a low-value model of selling the beans, toward developing processing capability locally, and wonder if they are missing a trick.
Certainly, they don’t believe the Chinese will be content in selling beans, as they do. They have shown themselves to be adept at developing equipment and processing expertise and scaling it quicker than perhaps anywhere else in the world.
Since the Chinese successfully exported a batch of 500 kilograms of cocoa beans, worth € 3,044 ($3,570) to Belgium, the farm, based in Haikou, Hainan has been working hard to develop its capacity and technology.
On the one hand, Nigeria may miss out by not implementing the value-added infrastructure and expertise as they are doing in Ghana, but as that country withdraws, at least partially, from the commodity market, the European chocolate makers may look for other countries to fill the void.