Cocoa bean is a fermented and dried seed of a tropical tree called Theobroma Cacao. Cocoa bean is a foremost export commodity in Nigeria contributing more than 30 per cent of foreign exchange earnings from non-oil exports and making a significant contribution to the internally generated revenue of major cocoa producing states. It is a source of income and employment for thousands of families in the cocoa growing belts of the country.
Cocoa bean production in Nigeria is concentrated along rainforest vegetation zone in Ondo, Cross River, Ekiti, Osun, Oyo, and Ogun States where the environmental conditions are most suitable. Other marginal producing states are Edo, Delta, Kogi, Kwara, Abia, Akwa Ibom and Taraba.
In 2018/2019 season, Nigeria produced 350,146 tons of cocoa bean out of 4.8 million tons global production and occupied 4th position after Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Indonesia. Local processing and utilization of cocoa is low in Nigeria as over 95 per cent of raw bean is exported to European and Asian countries where it is processed into powder, liquor, butter, candies and chocolate. The nutritional benefits of chocolate and cocoa powder as good sources of protein, fat, caffein, theobromine, vitamin B2, iron and zinc are responsible for high demand of cocoa bean in the international market.