Nigeria's cocoa production should hit 600,000 metric tonnes in the next two years.
The Chairman, Alternative Uses of Cocoa, a Sub-Committee of National Cocoa Development Committee, and Deputy Governor, Osun State, Erelu Olusola Obada, said this during an interview on Saturday in Osun State in preparation for the fourth Cocoa Day Celebration.
The event is billed to start starting today (Tuesday) with a theme "Cocoa for Health and Wealth."
She said that 35million hybrid seedlings of three years varieties had been given out free of charge to cocoa farmers as part of efforts to achieve the 600,000 metric tonnes by 2010.
She added that many old cocoa farms had been rehabilitated with chemicals given to the farmers at 60 per cent subsidy, all in a bid to achieve the goal.
Obada said, "The reason why we are canvassing for increased production is because Nigeria is the third largest producer of cocoa in Africa after Ivory Coast and Ghana."
"By 2010-2011 we should be doing close to what Ghana is doing and by the way, we are also the fourth largest cocoa producing nation in the world. We have Ivory Coast, Indonesia, Ghana and Nigeria.
"Nigeria is well placed in terms of creation of wealth through export of cocoa beans and processing of the beans locally. You know we have cocoa processing company in Nigeria that processes cocoa.
"Moreover our theme today has shifted from production to consuming the beans ourselves and I will give you the reason why, I just told you that we have given at least 35 million seedlings of the hybrid varieties that is the ones of 14 years.
"Today we also have the hybrid seedlings of 18 months, which means that we are going to have a lot of cocoa on our hands, we are already looking forward and planning ahead so that we do not want to sell all these cocoa abroad to the international market and our farmers will now become discouraged again, we don't want that."
Obada also said the production capacity of Cocoa in Nigeria has reached about 385,000 metric tones per annum.
She said that Nigeria was producing about 170,000 metric tones of cocoa as at the year 2000, which has today increased to 385,000 metric tones.
She added that Nigeria was the third largest producer of cocoa in Africa after Ivory Coast and Ghana. Ivory Coast, she said, produces about 1.5 million metric tonnes of cocoa while Ghana produces about 800,000 metric tonnes as today.
She said "Having now realised the nutritional importance of cocoa to the body we know that if Nigerian realized the importance of cocoa for the health of the body they will not even want us to sell out a single been out of the country and that is backed up research and it is authoritative."