The Federal Government is planning to create fresh 390,000 jobs in the cocoa industry.

The jobs, it said, would be created by doubling cocoa production from its current 250, 000 metric tonnes to 500, 000 MT by 2015.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Ezekiel Oyemomi, said in Abuja on Friday that the transformation agenda for the cocoa industry would help the country achieve one million MT by 2018.

He also said that the government was on the verge of setting up a Cocoa Marketing and Trade Corporation that would help guarantee minimum price for cocoa in the world market soon.

The move, according to him, will also help improve income of farmers by $450 per hectare yearly.

He said the efforts were part of the strategies to rehabilitate cocoa plantations in the country.

Oyemomi said the government was committed to protecting cocoa farmers from the uncertainties in the cocoa market.

He said, “Our main goal is to raise national cocoa production to at least 500,000 metric tonnes by 2015 and one million MT by 2018 from the current dismal production of 250,000 MT per annum through sustainable and better plantation management practice.

“We will also improve the means of livelihood of at least 100,000 farmers by increasing the yield per hectare and cocoa income by $450 yearly in 250, 000 farm households in the cocoa producing states over the next four years and creating at least 390,000 jobs in the cocoa subsector.”

Oyemomi said the transformation programme was designed to bring a paradigm shift in the agriculture sector, adding that the government had been facilitating access to agro-inputs under the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme.

He said, “The ministry will remain focussed on achieving its objectives of restoring Nigeria to its glorious position of the largest cocoa producer in the world by faithfully implementing the robust cocoa transformation agenda.

“The ministry is working towards the incorporation of the Cocoa Marketing Trade Corporation. This institution will guarantee minimum price for cocoa in an assured market. It will protect the farmer from the vagaries of the world cocoa market.

“Efforts are being made to rehabilitate old cocoa plantations in the country and we are putting in place a cocoa quality improvement and branding mechanism.”

He added, “A fundamental principle of cocoa transformation is the strong engagement of the private sector in driving a vibrant cocoa industry.”

According to him, the government has been setting up a database of cocoa farmers, adding that about 65, 525 farmers have been registered under the GES.

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