Cocoa Farming in Nigeria provides an excellent opportunity for investors. Cocoa is one of the fastest selling agricultural products. Once your cocoa tree is planted and reached maturity – you can harvest money from it for whole your life. The cocoa is a perennial crop and can produce for decades. Therefore, it can be a good opportunity for you to start a business with cocoa.
Cocoa business in Nigeria is massively underutilised, and there are thousands of acres of fertile lands that can be used for cocoa plantation. Before the Oil boom, the cocoa production was one of the mainstay branches of Nigeria Economy.
Сocoa farming lost its positions. Still, any serious farmer in Nigeria would see the opportunity for business in this sector of agriculture.
Agriculture in Nigeria
About 70 percent of Nigerians are engaged in the agricultural sector of the economy. Agriculture provides about 41 percent of overall GDP of Nigeria. Farming in Nigeria is connected with a productive and successful business structure. Still, farmers can`t satisfy overall urban demands, and Nigerian Government has to import products elsewhere.
Therefore, it`s necessary to support local producers of agricultural products. Domestic production of agricultural products can support the demand of the local market for only 70%. Therefore, if you have an idea to start a farming business in Nigeria – you will have customers. Cocoa production in Nigeria can be your perfect start for a business venture in the agricultural sector.
History of Cocoa Production in Nigeria
The earliest cocoa farming in Nigeria was provided in Calabar and Bonny in the 1870s, but these areas were not suitable for cultivation. Later, in the 1880s, cocoa farms were established in Ota, Agege and Lagos. Cocoa farming was widely spread in the West parts of Nigeria. Farmers in Egba and Ibadan started planting cocoa in uncultivated forests in 1890.
The cocoa plantation spread to Ondo town and Okeigbo in Ondo State, Gbongan and Ife in Osun State. There were two main varieties of cocoa nuts before 1950. The first variety was imported from Trinidad. The second variety reached the lands of Nigeria from Amazon River Basin in Brazil. The Trinidad variety is red, while the Amazon green turns yellow when ripe.
Top 7 tips for cocoa production in Nigeria
How to Set up a Cocoa Farm?
You need to locate forest lands with appropriate climate and rainfalls. Cocoa seeds can die swiftly without proper nurturing. The forest canopy can be a perfect one for cocoa plants. The land must be covered by rain forest canopy. The ideal temperature for the cocoa tree is 21-23 degrees Celsius with 1000-25000mm of rainfall per year.
You may need some reliable source of seeds for your cocoa plantation. International Institute for Tropical Agriculture can be a reliable source of cocoa seeds. The Institute experts can also give you some piece of advice about what type of cocoa seeds is the most useful for your lands. Nevertheless, you can also buy cocoa seeds in the nearest farming market. Farmers can also provide you with some piece of information about the business. Remember, that the best period for planting cocoa is in April-May – at the beginning of the raining season.
Cocoa Farming Climate Condition
The countries which produce cocoa lay in a belt between 10N and 10S of the Equator. It`s considered to be the best climate for cocoa trees. The largest cocoa producing countries for today are Indonesia, Ghana and Ivory Coast.
Cocoa plants respond well to climates with high temperatures, like 30-32 degrees Celsius as a maximum and 18-21 degrees Celsius as a minimum. Cocoa trees are very sensitive to the deficiency of water in the soil. Rainfall should be plentiful – no less than 1500mm per year.
Soil condition for Cocoa production
Cocoa trees need a soil with a reasonable quantity of nutrients. The quality of the soil should help trees to develop a strong root system. The soil should have a good drainage, and water retention properties as cocoa trees are very sensitive to the lack of water.
The plants have a large number of roots for absorbing nutrients, so, the chemical properties are critical. The required pH level should be in range 5.0-7.5. The soil should also have a high content of organic matter – at least 3.5%.
- Criollos. This type of cocoa dominated in the eighteen century. Criollo is still considered as the luxury cocoas. Still, Criollo is more susceptible to various diseases. Therefore, its production is a little bit expensive.
- Forastero. This type of cocoa is considered to be a father of all cocoa plants. Around 80% of the world`s cultivation is connected with the Forastero cocoa. The typical characteristic of Forastero is less aromatic cocoa flavour, which in some cases can be bitter. Forastero can be easily found in Ivory Coast, Ghana and Nigeria.
- The Trinitario. This variety is descended from Criollo and Forastero. The Trinitario planting came from Trinidad and later spread to Papua New Guinea, Java, Sri Lanka, Samoa, Cameroon and Ecuador. It`s the best combination of luxury cocoa flavour and its hardiness. It has a great cocoa taste which is only a little bit bitter.
Breeding Methods in Cocoa Farming in Nigeria
Cocoa trees are raised from seeds. They can produce good plants if they are taken underripe from pods (before 15 days).
- Cutting. Tree cuttings should be taken with five leaves and at least two buds. Then the leaves should be cut in half and placed in a pot until the roots appear.
- Budding. A bud should be cut from a tree and placed under another tree. The budding patch should be waxed to prevent moisture loss. The bud can be cut off when it starts growing under the old tree.
Cocoa farming opportunities
The price of one bag of cocoa in Nigeria is around $200. You can start your cocoa plantation with at least ten bags. Therefore, you can expect to yield twice more in two years. Therefore, you can return your investments in two years.
Cocoa trees usually reach the mature state in 18 months. Still, some traditional cocoa crops need up to five years to mature. Therefore, think about raising some funds before starting this type of business.
Cocoa might be the only product in Nigeria which you can market in one day. The whole world is cocoa dependent as it`s used in almost every product. Nigeria does not produce enough cocoa to satisfy its needs so it means you can expect a fair trade in the local markets.
If you plan have international market orientation, you can also expect high demand. You can also contact various cocoa agents not to deal with marketing and concentrate on production.
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