Lagos - The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on Tuesday restated its commitment to support Nigerian farmers in boosting cocoa production towards diversification of the nation’s economy.
USAID’s Director of Economic Growth and Environment, Mathew Burton, said in Lagos that cocoa was Nigeria’s key export that urgently needed to be developed.
Burton said that it was imperative for Nigeria to be encouraged to diversify her economy especially now that the prices of oil had fallen.
According to him, increase in the production of cocoa will also boost local and international consumption of the product.
"The U. S. Government, through the USAID, will continue to support Nigerian farmers in the development of the cocoa sector due to current fall in the prices of oil.
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"We think the time is ripe for diversification in Nigeria’s economy.
"The USAID is very much interested in supporting Nigerian Government’s effort at diversifying her economy.
"And cocoa as we all know is one of Nigeria’s key exports, with a high global demand and prices.
"So, there are obviously opportunities for Nigeria to explore in the development of her cocoa sector,’’ he said.
The USAID’s official, however, noted that the nation’s cocoa industry had in the 10 to 15 years witnessed an under-investment.
Burton said that the agency was already working with Nigeria’s small holder farmers as well as bringing in large scale investment for the development of the sector.
He also said that the agency had launched different business initiatives for Nigerians interested in doing business with the U.S.