IITA: Govs, others brainstorm on future of Africa’s cocoa research

For the first time in West Africa, a regional symposium focusing on the next generation of cocoa research for West and Central Africa will take place today at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan.

The symposium will tackle the bottlenecks faced by cocoa producers in West and Central Africa, and update stakeholders and policy makers on the recent innovations in cocoa improvement.

“This Regional Cocoa Symposium is the first of its kind in Africa. It is happening in West Africa—the hub of global cocoa production. It will highlight the diverse roles of cocoa in improving farmers’ livelihood. It is also a forum for stakeholders to synthesize ideas on sustainable cocoa production. The Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN) is proud to be part of this event,” said O. Olubamiwa, Executive Director of CRIN.

Notable leaders from southwest Nigerian will join academics, industry representatives, and stakeholders in Africa’s cocoa sector to discuss research priorities across both the public and private sector platforms, share research experiences and identify research needs to unleash the potential of the crop.

Cocoa is essential to the livelihoods of 40-50 million people worldwide, including over 5 million smallholder cocoa farmers who grow this valuable crop. In West Africa about 6 million hectares are planted with cocoa, contributing about 70% to the total world production. The biggest producers are Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, followed by Nigeria and Cameroon.

Cocoa production is highly labor intensive, and smallholder cocoa farmers face many challenges including severe crop loss due to disease, aging trees, outdated farming techniques, and limited organizational and research support.

Nteranya Sanginga, Director General of IITA, said that the symposium aims to bring together different stakeholders including public institutions, private partners and donors along with scientists, researchers, industry partners, farmers and other stakeholders across the value chain to draw a roadmap for a sustainable cocoa sector in the region.