Nigeria's Cross River State to Expand Cocoa Land, Boost Output

Nigeria’s southeastern Cross River state plans to expand land under cocoa cultivation by a third in the current season and revamp old farms in a bid to double output, an official said.

“We intend to bring about 4,000 hectares of previously unplanted areas into cocoa cultivation,” Egrinya Eneji, state commissioner for agriculture, said Friday in an e-mailed response to questions from capital, Calabar. “We intend to introduce the most modern cocoa hybrids capable of yields of 2 metric tons per hectare.”

Located on Nigeria’s southeastern border with Cameroon, Cross River accounts for about 30 percent of the country’s cocoa, with the southwestern region producing about 60 percent. Nigeria, the world’s number four cocoa producer after Ivory Coast, Ghana and Indonesia, estimated its 2013-14 season output to be 350,000 tons.

Government-owned estates account for about 4,000 hectares (9,884 acres) of existing cocoa farms in Cross River, while small-holder farmers cultivate another 4,000 hectares around the cocoa-trading town of Ikom, according to Eneji.

Farmers will receive 5 million cocoa seedlings to cultivate new farms and revamp old ones at the start of the planting season in March, he said.

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