By Oludele Taiwo
The Oloni of Eti-Oni in Osun State, who is also the Chairman of Eti-Oni Development Group, Oba Dokun Thompson; an expert in the cocoa and chocolate industry in Nigeria and beyond, has said that the Cocoa Renaissance Initiative of the group is doing a lot to bring about awareness of not only the economic benefit, but the health benefit of cocoa.
In an interview, he said the primary and most popular consumption product of cocoa is in the form of chocolate. “The chocolate industry is a tough environment with several challenges from funding to even simple things as labelling because those who approve these labelling for chocolate makers to have their products put on store shelves, know little or nothing about chocolate and they are the authority.
“This is part of the reason why the Nigerian Chocolate Group by chocolate makers was set up to help guide these agencies in the many aspects of Chocolate-making and retailing. In 2023, I hope to see more local brands and products on store shelves. This will only be possible with more funding made available for entrepreneurs to be able to either scale up or roll out more. Yes, the chocolate industry is very young in Nigeria, but an appreciation of chocolate as a wealth creation product should not be readily dismissed either as a foreign product or nothing more than raw cocoa beans.
“On the cocoa side of things, the Nigerian Cocoa industry should also lead and guide Ghana and Ivory Coast on how best to utilise their cocoa for more. It should not be about wanting to be part of the Ghana Ivory Coast initiative to ask for Living Income Differential because the Nigerian cocoa farmer already gets paid a lot more for their beans when compared with what their counterparts in Ghana or Ivory Coast get. Emphasis should be on the cocoa culture that will add value and ultimately create wealth that will lead to transformation of producing regions”, he added.