Increasing cocoa crops through a training programme – healthier trees secure income for Eta Christopher’s family.

Eta Christopher, a 55-year-old cocoa farmer in the Ikom region in Nigeria, participates in Fazer’s grower programme. Christopher maintains five farms, and he used to spend a great deal of money on agricultural chemicals to protect his cocoa trees from diseases. Regardless of this, his crops were weak, and he had to send his seven children to school on borrowed money.

The training provided Christopher with new information about pruning trees and collecting damaged cocoa pods to prevent diseases from spreading. This enabled him to reduce his use of chemicals by more than 50 per cent, and the trees on his farms are in better health. Christopher also participated in a seedling project in his farming community and received 100 young seedlings to replace old trees. Overall, the project produced nearly 75,000 cocoa seedlings.

Thanks to the training and the new seedlings, Christopher’s annual cocoa crop has increased by 65 per cent, from 1,152 kilos to 3,456. His family’s standard of living has improved considerably, and Christopher is currently building two houses. He hopes that the training programme will expand to cover other farming communities, so other growers will also be able to improve their standard of living.

In Nigeria, many farmers continue to earn a living by growing cocoa in line with traditional methods, with no training in farming. For this reason, farming can be inefficient, with weak crops. Training makes it possible to increase cocoa production and reduce the use of chemicals.