Nigeria’s cocoa revolution gets boost as NEXIM disburses N20b – The Nigeria Export and Import Bank (NEXIM) has said it has plans to reverse the dwindling production and processing of cocoa in the country.
The plans, it was learnt, are parts of Federal Government’s drive to harness the potentials in the Agricultural sector.
NEXIM’s Executive Director for Business Promotion Stella Okotete spoke at a stakeholders’ forum, tagged: Nigerian Cocoa and the World, in Akure, the Ondo State capital.
She said the bank’s intervention through single-digit interest funding of cocoa farmers and investors would ensure that the produce meets international market standard.
Okotete said the interaction would enable stakeholders to brainstorm on the challenges of cocoa production and exchange ideas on possible solutions to the challenges in the sector.
The bank chief noted that it would also bring out the benefits of the sector, not only those within the value-chain but also for the entire country.
She said: “We are currently availing funds to cocoa processors and producers in the entire value chain at a single digit.
“Currently, we are one of the TFIs that have the lowest interest rate in terms of financing.
“The stakeholders’ interactive session in Akure is actually to address the challenges that cocoa farmers as well as producers and processors are having. We believe that from this interaction, we would be able to gain more in-depth knowledge of their challenges and proffer solutions.”
Okotete said NEXIM had been working on how to ensure that loan seekers are not discouraged with the rigours and bottlenecks of securing loans in the country.
The bank chief said the plan to accept moveable assets was being examined.
She added: “At the last stakeholders’ engagement we had in 2017, we were able to identify some of the big challenges that women and youths experience and we came up with the Women and Youth Export facility. This is currently addressing inadequate collateral for loans.
“In this product, we are willing and we have the board approvals to accept collateral registry certificate to form part of the collaterals. These will take into cognisant moveable assets.
“So, the issue of trying to collaterise your loans has adequately been addressed.
“When we came in 2017, we actually didn’t have cocoa exporters in our books. As of today, we have been able to disburse nothing less than N10 billion to cocoa exporters and we are currently processing another N10 billion. We are hopeful to have more applications from cocoa farmers to access our single digit of nine per cent.”
Lauding NEXIM’s move for coming to the rescue of cocoa producers and processors, Ondo State Commissioner for Agriculture, Gboyega Adefarati said the global market for the produce was huge and growing at an average of 30 per cent per annum and must be optimised for the benefits of all.
Reeling out the potentials of Ondo State as the largest producer of cocoa in the country, Adefarati said: “Nigerian cocoa is currently experiencing low and declining yields due to inconsistent production patterns, pests and disease attacks, age of farmers and farms, land tenure system and weak linkage between producers and exporters.
“To tackle this challenge and promote synergy between cocoa farmers and processors, the sector must be rid of bad eggs adopting sharp practices to destroy the prestige of the country among producing countries.”
One of the stakeholders at the forum and Chairman of Klick Connect, Chief Alex Ajipe, stressed that efforts must be made to first identify the factors affecting the decline and lack of interest in cocoa production before embarking on exportation.
He said: “If nothing is done urgently, we might slip from being in the seventh position to probably ninth or 10th. And it will continue to go like that until we take a proactive step.”