13 January 1999
Nigeria develops new cocoa tree

SCIENTISTS working at the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria have developed a hybrid tree that could reverse the countrys declining cocoa production.

Nigerias cocoa production once amounted to 300,000 tonnes a year, but is now averaging less than half that figure.

The hybrid tree was developed from 59 varieties over a period of 15 years, reports the Financial Times. It combines longevity, low maintenance and disease resistance with more frequent and better yields than imported West Indian and Brazilian varieties.

The scientists say the tree, which matures in only 30 months, could produce more than 2t/ha of cocoa, about four times the national average.

The tree could play a part in Nigerias ambition to re-emerge as a top cocoa producer by rebuilding plantations ravaged by neglect and bad management.

Most of Nigerias cocoa is produced in tiny quantities by an estimated 400,000 smallholder farmers.

The Government intends to bolster that production with the introduction of the new variety as well as lead a marketing campaign to sell the resultant product.

  • Financial Times 13/01/99 page 34