(Updates with Socodevi’s work in fourth paragraph, prices in last.)
Nov. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Nigerian farmers are joining cooperatives that promise better prices from the global cocoa market by helping them improve crop quality, the country’s industry association said.
“In the next two years, we are looking at achieving a 20 percent increase in output and a significant improvement in quality,” Neji Abang Neji, secretary-general of the Cocoa Association of Nigeria, said by phone yesterday from the southwest cocoa-trading town of Akure. The country’s cocoa adjudged low-grade is currently sold at a discount on the international market, he said.
Farmers are getting help to improve their cocoa business from Socodevi, a Quebec City, Canada-based network of institutions that assist developing countries, said Neji, who is also Nigeria’s Socodevi coordinator. The organization provides each grouping of farmers with laboratory kits to determine crop quality and provide advice to ensure the chocolate ingredient fetches the best price, he said.
Nigeria plans to double cocoa output to 500,000 metric tons in five years, Akinwunmi Adesina, agriculture minister, said on Nov. 11. The country ranks behind Ivory Coast, Ghana and Indonesia as the world’s largest cocoa producer, according to the website of the International Cocoa Organization.
More than 500 small-holder farmers have joined the existing nine cooperatives in the last two years, benefitting from training programs facilitated by Socodevi, Felix Ogundayomi, manager of Alade Idanre Multipurpose Union, one of the groupings, said by phone on Nov. 22 from the southwest cocoa- growing town of Idanre.
Farmers “are encouraged to pool their produce and that increases their bargaining power,” Neji of the cocoa association said. Profits made by the cooperatives are shared at their annual general meetings, he said.
Socodevi is working with cocoa cooperatives in Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Ghana, Liberia, Benin, in addition to Nigeria, all in the West Africa region that accounts for about 70 percent of world production, according to Neji.
Cocoa for March delivery slipped 0.8 percent to $2,384 a ton by 7:46 a.m. on ICE Futures U.S.in New York, the lowest since May. 29. Cocoa for December delivery fell 0.9 percent to 1,504 pounds ($2,329) a ton on NYSE Liffe in London.
--With assistance from Isis Almeida and Maria Kolesnikova in London. Editors: Dulue Mbachu, Emily Bowers
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