1.1 Background to the Study
Cocoa was introduced into Nigeria at about 1874 at around the time it was introduced to Ghana and other West African countries. Christian missionaries, soldiers, farmers were also instrumental to the cocoa into Nigeria1. Cocoa tree belongs to the genus Theobroma and the family of Sterculiaceae. Cocoa, is mostly propagated by the seed although there have been successful propagations by vegetable means through cuttings. Cocoa requires an altitude of 100-300m, rainfall of about 1350-1800mm per annum. The average temperature is about 25.5C.
It is a well-known fact among historians that Cocoa was introduced into Nigeria in 1874 from Fernando Po by Chief Squiss Baningo2. This was a step to further enhance legitimate trade. Since its introduction in Nigeria, its cultivation has gained prominence rapidly in Nigeria such that in the early seventies, cocoa production has spread to all agro-ecological zones in Nigeria.
Cocoa is a beverage crop used in preparation of many food drinks like Ovaltine, Bournvita, Pronto, in Nigeria3. Cocoa has remained over the years, a valuable crop and major foreign exchange earner among other agricultural commodity exports of the economy of Ondo state. Before the discovery of crude oil, Nigeria’s export and source of fund was agriculture with cocoa as a major cash crop in the economy. We cannot ignore cocoa while talking about our history as a nation. This is speaking in terms of total production. Cocoa was the most important agricultural export crop during 1960-1970, contributing significantly to the foreign exchange earnings of the country. The production increased gradually to 308,000 metric tons in 1970-1971.
Agriculture in the early 1960’s was the backbone of Nigeria’s economy. Its contribution was up to 60% of GDP. Cocoa has been the most important crop in Nigeria even before the independence and the trend continues till today4. Many people became properties owner through its cultivation and this gave many farmers the privilege to afford the cost of sending their children to educational institutions. The crop has transformed the socio-economic life of the people as a result of innovation brought forth by the industry in Nigeria and Akure in particular.
Ondo State accounted for over 70% of Nigeria’s Cocoa output in the 1970’s-1980’s. About 320,000 hectares of land was put into cocoa production in the state out of the national average of 700,000 hectares as at 2004. Over 60% of the State’s farmers are presently engaged in Cocoa farming. However, Cocoa production output of the state declined from over 700,000 metric tons per annum in the 1970’s to 45,742 metric tons in the year 20015. The fall in production consequently disposed the state to rivalry its counterpart Cocoa producing state as well as the internally generated revenue. It has risen from 45,742 metric tons in 2001 to 54,218.5 and 64,906 in 2002 and 2003 respectively.
This research will basically be on cocoa production; it uses and impacts on the socio-economic history of akure in the post-colonial period. The essay will aim at relating the advantage of cocoa production in Akure to our present day modernization. Since then, West Africa has become the world’s largest producers of cocoa. The researcher also wants to emphasize the fact that cocoa production had over the years and still impacts the socio-economic activities of Akure ranging from wealth creation, employment opportunities, improving lives of the people, making cocoa farmers feel respected in the social life of Akure.
Furthermore, it is to examine the reason why its production has declined after the discovery of crude oil in commercial quantity. It is therefore, pertinent to look into the sub-sector to restore the glory of cocoa production in Akure.
The scope of this work is in the post-colonial period. This periodization marks the height of cocoa cultivation commercial quantity in Akure. The study is limited to the post-colonial period of Akure starting from 1960, till modern times. It considers the effects of crude oil on cocoa production, the attitude of the farmers towards it and the socio-economic development it has brought to the land.
To arrive at this, the work has been divided into four chapters. The first chapter is made up of the general introduction. The scope of the study, significance of the study, research methodology and problem and literature review.
The second chapter shed light on the origin of Akure and its rapid growth. It also examines the socio-cultural and economic activities of the people of Akure.
The third chapter expatiates on agricultural processes of cocoa, the driving force behind the propagation of cocoa production, the maintenance of cocoa plantation and the role of the marketing agents and agro-allied industries.
The last chapter which is the fourth chapter of this work deals with economic political, socio-cultural impacts of cocoa in Akure and final conclusion.
The study has the significance reveal the importance of cocoa production in Akure and how it has been indispensable among farmers. An understandable explanation will be provided on how this crop gained its popularity.
The work aims at considering the economic, socio-cultural development its cultivation has brought to Nigeria. It will serve as eyes opener and help the youths to make judicious use of the wide agricultural land available in the land leading to further development to the people. It will serve the purpose of economic diversification and will help effects of over reliance of government on crude oil.
The outfit of this project work will be based on the use of two major historical sources. These are primary and secondary sources. The primary sources were oral or mouth to mouth information, while the secondary sources were published and unpublished works obtained from libraries, internet textbooks, newspapers, past research.
Under the primary sources, interviews will be conducted which have to do with getting information from the knowledgeable ones in the city. More so, farmers who are based on cocoa production will be interviewed to get more details about cocoa production. This information collected will be added to the written documents available.
The secondary source includes textbooks, journals, and internet. Unpublished works were also consulted.
Since research work is usually associated with problems, this one cannot be exceptional. There are few accessible books on the production of cocoa in Akure.
In the course of undertaking the study, one of the problems faced was the issue of mobility that brought about stress of travelling down to the area to conduct interviews with different cocoa farmers. Also, some farmers could not give accurate date of event.