The minister said Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of cocoa.
Aganga said this on Friday on the occasion of the National Sensitisation Workshop of the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards (SPS) Capacity Building in Abuja.
He said the country’s cocoa export had grown over the years by an average of 40 per cent annually and a cumulative of 280 per cent from $215 million in 2006 to $822.8 million in 2010.
Mr. Aganga said the current administration considers the industry very critical to the success of the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan and the Transformation Agenda.
“The strategic importance of cocoa to our national economy needs not be over-emphasised.
“Apart from the fact that it is the second largest foreign exchange earner after crude oil, the industry generates over two million jobs directly and indirectly along its value chain.
“Nigeria is the world’s fourth largest producer and exporter of cocoa. Paradoxically, over 90 per cent of cocoa produced is exported,” he said.
Mr. Aganga said the non-conformity by cocoa producing countries to the regulations under the SPS will foreclose access to the lucrative markets and the consequence “on cocoa farmers and the national economy will be disastrous’’.
Also speaking, Olakunle Shogbola, the Acting Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment, said government would continue to partner with the International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO).
Mr. Shogbola said this would ensure that farmers, exporters, and other stakeholders in the cocoa industry, benefit maximally from the project.
The Executive Director of ICCO, Jean-Marc Anga, who was represented by Abubakar Yinusa, an official of the organization, said his organisation was working with other major stakeholders, towards achieving sustainable world cocoa economy.
The SPS is operational in Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Cameroon, and Cote d’Ivoire, in order to build the capacity and to effectively monitor the level of pesticide residues in the cocoa and cocoa product designated for export.