70 percent of the world’s cocoa beans come from four West African countries: Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon. The Ivory Coast and Ghana are the two largest producers of cocoa as they combined more than half of the world´s cocoa.
Kenya will soon join the West African region in growing cocoa following a Memorandum of understanding(MOU) signed between Kilifi County Government, Kilimo Sasa Fund (KSF) and the Community Agriculture Resources Development Program (CARDEP).
Following the MOU signed for a project dubbed ‘Cocoa for New and Sustainable Livelihoods (Consul)’, farmers in Kilifi are set to start organic cocoa farming in a move aimed at diversifying Kilifi’s agricultural products. For a long time, Kilifi’s agricultural landscape has been dominated by cashew nuts.
One Mr Gary Roy Stubley, The chief executive officer of Kilimo Sasa Fund which is a non-governmental organisation was attracted to Kilifi due to its humid climatic condition and sandy loam soil that is favorable for growing cocoa.They have since conducted a feasibility study in collaboration with Kenya Agricultural Research Organisation (KALRO) which then paved way for the signing of the MOU.
The project targets a total of 99,000 farmers and according to the Kilimo Sasa Fund CEO Mr Gary, the project is aims to produce between 40,000 and 50,000 tonnes of cocoa in the first harvest before expanding farming to other areas.
“Cocoa will take about two and a half years to mature and that happening we shall get an interim crop that will give us two harvests in a year,” he said.
“The overall tonnage that will put Kilifi and Kenya to the international cocoa market will be 250,000 tonnes in a year,” further stating that the crop has a lifespan of between 30 and 40 years and is harvested twice a year.
Mr Gary spoke after signing the MOU with Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi and he noted that the demand for organic cocoa is extremely high and it is expected to be higher in the next two years adding that “The price of chemical cocoa is USD 2.2K per tonne while organic cocoa fetches USD 3K,” he said adding “once it is processed, it will get to USD 8K for each tonne.”
The governor noted that the introduction of the cocoa and the revival of cashew nut and coconut farming will improve the county’s economy.“We are not just going to tell farmers to embrace cocoa farming and then they go for a bumper harvest and the produce is left to rot. If the production is good enough to justify the setting up of a processing plant in Kilifi then that will be done.”
Kilimo Sasa Fund will also lias with the KALRO who will be certifying the cocoa seeds brought in from Ghana.
Featured Image Courtesy: Daily Times Nigeria