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Boosting local cocoa consumption: A viable opportunity for Nigeria’s economic growth

By Patricia Tile and Beclan Chibundu   Introduction Nigeria, often referred to as the “Giant of Africa,” holds enormous potential for the growth of its…

By Patricia Tile and Beclan Chibundu



Nigeria, often referred to as the “Giant of Africa,” holds enormous potential for the growth of its cocoa industry. With a rich agricultural heritage and a climate conducive to cocoa cultivation, Nigeria can significantly increase local consumption of cocoa and its products. This not only benefits local farmers but also presents a viable opportunity for economic growth.

In this article, we will explore strategies to boost local cocoa consumption and make a case for government investment in this promising sector, taking cognizance that the sector contributed largely to the Nigerian export opportunities in the 1950s and 1960s (Taiwo Bello & Matthew Mitchell in their Article Africa Today 2018 Vol. 640).

Current Landscape

While Nigeria is one of the world’s top cocoa-producing countries, a significant portion of its cocoa beans is exported, leaving room for improvement in local consumption. This is an untapped opportunity considering the increasing global demand for cocoa-based products. The local market is yet to fully embrace the diverse range of cocoa products, from chocolate and cocoa beverages to skincare items.

Nigeria is the fourth-largest cocoa producer globally – trailing behind Ivory Coast, Ghana and Indonesia – with a long history of cocoa cultivation. The potential for growth in the domestic market is immense, and by tapping into this resource, Nigeria can simultaneously create economic opportunities and promote sustainable agriculture.

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Nutritional Value of Cocoa

Cocoa consumption has the following values and properties:

1 Fibre 10.9g

2 Iron 11.9mg

3 Magnesium 228mg

4 Potassium 715mg

5 Phosphorus 308mg

6 Energy 598kcal

7 Protein 7.79g

8 Fat 42.69.

Strategies to Increase Local Consumption

Promoting Cocoa-Based Products

Launch targeted marketing campaigns to educate consumers about the nutritional benefits of cocoa and its products.

Collaborate with local businesses to create and promote innovative cocoa-based products, such as cocoa-infused snacks, beverages, and skincare items.

Supporting Local Entrepreneurs

Provide financial incentives and grants to local entrepreneurs interested in establishing cocoa processing facilities.

Facilitate partnerships between cocoa farmers and entrepreneurs to ensure a consistent supply chain for cocoa-based products.

Educating Consumers

Implement educational programs in schools and communities to raise awareness about the versatility of cocoa and its health benefits.

Organise events and workshops to showcase the various ways cocoa can be incorporated into everyday meals and snacks.

Launching educational campaigns to raise awareness about the nutritional benefits of cocoa and its products can play a pivotal role. These campaigns can highlight the health benefits of cocoa, dispel myths surrounding its consumption, and encourage the integration of cocoa products into everyday diets.

Promoting Local Brands

Encouraging and supporting local cocoa processing companies can lead to the development of high-quality cocoa products. By promoting these brands, consumers are more likely to choose locally produced goods, contributing to the growth of the domestic cocoa market.

Collaboration with the food industry

Partnering with the food and beverage industry to incorporate cocoa into a variety of products can diversify its consumption. The introduction of cocoa-based snacks, beverages, and desserts can attract new consumers and stimulate demand.

Quality Control and Certification

Strengthen quality control measures to ensure that locally produced cocoa and cocoa products meet international standards.

Encourage certifications for local cocoa products to build trust among consumers, both locally and internationally.

Advocating Government Investment

Infrastructure Development

The government should invest in infrastructure to enhance the entire cocoa value chain, from farming to processing. Improving transportation networks, storage facilities, and processing plants will not only boost productivity but also attract private investment in the sector. Invest in the development of infrastructure, including storage facilities, to reduce post-harvest losses and ensure the timely delivery of cocoa products to consumers.

Research and Development

Allocating funds to research and development in cocoa farming and processing will help improve crop yield, quality, and efficiency. This investment can lead to the development of disease-resistant cocoa varieties and innovative processing methods.

Financial Support for Farmers

Providing financial support, subsidies, and credit facilities to cocoa farmers can encourage increased cultivation and ensure a stable supply of cocoa beans. This support will empower farmers to adopt sustainable and modern farming practices.

Economic Diversification

Government investment in the cocoa industry will highlight the potential of the cocoa industry as a key player in diversifying Nigeria’s economy away from oil dependence.

Job Creation

Over 328,000 tons of cocoa were produced in 2020 and Nigeria is still unable to take full advantage of the cocoa industry like Ivory Coast and Ghana in order to diversify its economy. Government investment in the cocoa industry will create employment opportunities, particularly in rural areas where cocoa is predominantly cultivated.

Global Competitiveness

Position Nigeria as a competitive player in the global cocoa market by investing in research and development, ensuring sustainable farming practices, and promoting quality.

Foreign Exchange Earnings

Showcase the potential for increased foreign exchange earnings through the export of high-quality cocoa products.


Increasing local consumption of cocoa and its products in Nigeria is not just a sweet endeavour but a strategic move toward economic growth and diversification. By implementing the proposed strategies and garnering government support, Nigeria can harness the full potential of its cocoa industry, creating a win-win situation for farmers, entrepreneurs, and the nation as a whole.

Boosting local consumption of cocoa and its products in Nigeria requires a multi-faceted approach involving public awareness, private sector collaboration, and most importantly, government investment. By strategically investing in the cocoa industry, the Nigerian government can not only stimulate economic growth but also create a sustainable and thriving cocoa market that benefits farmers, entrepreneurs, and consumers alike. The time is ripe for Nigeria to unlock the full potential of its cocoa industry and sweeten the deal for its citizens and the global market.

Tile and Chibundu wrote from Abuja