Profit-making idea: Capitalising on the potential of cocoa in Nigeria

We asked Yemisi Iranloye, founder and CEO of Psaltry International – a cassava processing company in Nigeria – to identify an untapped business opportunity in her country. Iranloye has worked in the agricultural sector for nearly two decades and has built her business into a multimillion-dollar venture. However, she believes several crops deserve more attention and one of these is cocoa.

According to the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, cocoa products account for over $800 million in exports for Nigeria, with cocoa beans making up about 90% of that. Cocoa is also Nigeria’s third-largest export after crude oil and petroleum gas. The global cocoa product market is expected to be valued at over $30 billion in the next five years. This creates a significant opportunity, not just for cocoa farming, but for cocoa processing as well.

However, many people shy away from cocoa because it is a long-term crop, according to Iranloye. “Most people want to put their money in business today and start to earn profit from the next day or within the next six months. If they’re not making money in three months, they’re not interested in that business. But [cocoa] is a business that can outlive you. If you do cocoa and it starts to earn money in five years, your children, your children’s children and their children will continue to benefit from that farm forever,” she says.

She believes more Nigerians should invest in cultivating cash crops but they should not stop there. They should invest in transforming the cash crops into finished products. “Nigerians who have cocoa farms should transform it into chocolate, cocoa cereals and cocoa drinks. We need to do more of that instead of harvesting seeds/crops, exporting them and importing the manufactured goods back into Nigeria. I see this as a big opportunity. It also goes for cashew, sesame and other healthy provitamin crops that are trendy.”