The International Cocoa Diplomacy (ICD) says arrangements have been concluded to hold the 2024 International Cocoa and Chocolate Forum (ICCF) in Lagos and Abuja in Nigeria next year January.
The ICCF is the main platform by International Cocoa Diplomacy for networking, partnerships, collaboration, ideas and cultural exchange, bilateral trade, opportunities, learning and forming new alliances.
The event with the theme: “Putting Value in Cocoa at Producing Regions”, is being organized in partnership with Nigerian Export and Import Bank, NEXIM Bank and Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN).
At a joint press conference in Lagos on Thursday, the Managing Director/Chief Executive of Nigerian Export-Import Bank Abba Bello harped on the need for Nigeria to add value to its cocoa exports as a major step towards maximizing the benefits of investments in the sector.
Bello who was represented by Mr Tayo Omidiji, NEXIM Bank’s Head of Strategy and Corporate Communication noted that cocoa is a leading non-oil export commodity in Nigeria which was a major driver of foreign exchange earnings for the country during the pre-oil era.
He said Nigeria has lost its leading position in the production and export of cocoa over the years to now rank about the 4th producer behind countries like Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Indonesia.
Speaking on behalf of Executive Director, Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), Dr. Patrick Adebola, the Director, Cocoa Programme of the Institute, Dr Samuel Orisajo said that CRIN is providing neccessary supports to cocoa farmers to ensure that they get it right in terms of best agricultural practices and add value to their cocoa so as to make maximum gains.
The Managing Director of Sunbeth Global Concept, Mr Olasunkanmi Owoyemi urged Nigerian government to put neccessary policies in place to prevent exploitation of cocoa farmers by enhancing cocoa value chain that would also protect the local cocoa economy players.
A member of the ICCF2024 Team, Mr Shola Mohammed told journalists that ICCF is billed to take place at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja on Tuesday 9th January 2024 while the event would also come up in Lagos at Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos on Thursday 11th January 2024.
Mohammed said the ICCF-2024-Nigeria is a follow up on the discussion at the recently concluded UK edition in October 2023 with focus on the new EU policy, its effect on cocoa producing regions and the way forward for the global cocoa trade.
According to him, “ICCF2024-NIGERIA is a call to action to continue the discussion where policy formation will meet investment requirements for the sole purpose of creating the cocoa culture that will begin to intentionally add value to cocoa and create wealth at origin to reduce dominance of the industry by consuming regions and to also explore ways for shared value and prosperity creation purposes.
He said the event would bring policy makers, financial institutions and stakeholders from across the continent together to exploit ways of taking advantage of African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA and other emerging cocoa and chocolate markets to optimize the potentials.
He also said the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Chief Olawale Edun would be the Chairman of the Forum in Abuja and will declare the Forum open with an address that will focus on the future of cocoa and value add and the role it is expected to play in Nigeria’s emerging and transformational economy.
He added that the Minister of Agriculture, Senator Abubakar Kyari would be the Special Guest and Keynote Speaker to deliver an address on Productivity versus Production in Agriculture in relation to Value Creation within the singular market, AfCFTA.
He said the First Lady of Kwara State, Nigeria, Ambassador (Prof) Olufolake Abdulrazaq who is the Honorary Global Ambassador of International Cocoa Diplomacy would deliver a goodwill message with focus on the importance of diplomacy to address the several issues facing the cocoa industry.
Mohammed said the First Secretary, Trade and Economic Issues at the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Mr Rikard Nordeman would make a presentation on the much talked about EU Regulation on Sustainability known as EUDR and that there will also be other panelists of policy makers and stakeholders who will discuss several important topics.
The topics include: “The impact of EUDR compliance on the Nigeria cocoa sector: Opportunities and Consequences”, “COP28 Resolutions: Climate-resilience in the Nigerian cocoa sector”, and “Expand thinking beyond cocoa beans and the opportunities for investment and job creation”.
Mohammed told journalists that Lagos session would be declared opened by the state Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu as Chief Host and that the Governor would also deliver an address on Lagos as the nations centre of excellence with possibility of a defined cocoa culture and its huge value and wealth creation potentials.
He said “This is to seize the opportunity of Lagos being the biggest market in the continent and bring together Investors, Entrepreneurs, Equipment Providers, etc for the purpose of looking into new business models that will encourage partnerships and collaboration to accelerate value addition in Nigeria and subsequently the continent.
The Honourable Minister of Trade and Investment is also expected at the Lagos Session as Special Guest and Keynote Speaker to deliver an address on Collaboration and Partnership as the key to unlocking investment opportunities within AfCFTA and reaching emerging markets as well as the Honourable Minister of Environment who will deliver a keynote on the link between Sustainability and Investments for a global market.
Some of the Topics for discussion at the Lagos Session include: “Opportunities for Wealth Creation within AfCTA: Looking at Cocoa in a new light,” “Cocoa value add opportunities, the barriers and solutions for success” as well as “The Future of Cocoa and its Transformational potentials”.