How to start cocoa exporting business in Nigeria and get international buyers online [Guide]

This guide would give you a broad overview on the cocoa exporting business in Nigeria, and get international buyers online.

Cocoa is an important cash crop in Nigeria. It is the highest non-oil export in the country.

The cocoa market is estimated to hit 24.25 billion USD in 2024.

Cocoa business is still considered under explored, and there’s enough room for more business people to make good money. While Africa dominates the world in cocoa production with over 70%, Africa is missing in the wealth in cocoa value addition, with just less than 5 percent market share.

As a country in desperate need to diversify its economy, this is one business you can venture into knowing the country need you eventually.

So are you ready to get started?

Let’s delve right in…

Introduction on cocoa

Cocoa, also called cacao tree, is an evergreen plant popularly cultivated to harvest its edible and rich cocoa seeds.

The cocoa seed is the major ingredient used in the production of chocolate liquor, chocolate solids, chocolate butter, and chocolate.

Cacao is a member of the family of malvaceae with its origin from the tropical rainforest area of central and southern America.

Cacao tree usually takes 3-5 years to grow it’s seeds. At maturation, cocoa pods are plucked off the tree and broken to extract the cocoa seeds. Each cocoa seed(also called cocoa beans) comprise of a seed coat, a kernel, and a germ.

Favourable Conditions for Cultivating Cocoa

In cultivating cocoa tree, you need the following conditions in your favour:

Temperature and weather conditions

Cacao trees are favorably grown in regions having about 27°C in average annual temperature, and an Annual rainfall of 150 to 350 cm.

Protection from Strong Winds

Strong winds often blow off unripe pods, and this can lead to waste and low yields for the farmers. Hence it is important to put measures in place to curtail such occurrence. As a typical example, Hurricanes can also cause huge damage to cocoa trees as seen in the West Indies and Central America.

Good covering from direct sunlight

It is encouraged as good practice to protect the cocoa tree from direct sunlight as it can cause pores on the cocoa pots. Planting of other crops to provide good covering from sunlight is a good practice.

Varieties of cocoa tree

The three main varieties of cocoa

Forastero

They are mainly known as the common cocoa as they are 95% of world production. The pods are short, yellow, smooth without warts, with shallow furrows. Their quality is not as good as Criollo. They are grown mainly in west Africa and Brazil. It is grown a lot in Africa.

 Criollo

Criollos are typically protruded, yellow or red in color, with deep furrows and big warts when they are ripe. They are mainly known as the fine or aromatic cocoa because of their very good cocoa quality, and are less than 1% of world production. They are  grown mainly in Latin America.

Trinitario

They are a hybrid of the Forastero and the Criollo and considered a fairly good, fine flavour cocoa. They are approximately 5% of world production, and grown mainly in Trinidad, Venezuela, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, East Timor, Java and Madagascar.

Some interesting things to know about cocoa

  • Cocoa beans are rich in potassium, magnesium and iron.
  • Very rich in food value, cocoa beans contains up to 20% protein, 40% carbohydrate, and 40% fat.
  • Cocoa can prevent cancer and other heart , and blood related diseases as it contains theobromine, an alkaloid closely related to caffeine and phenols and flavenoids, antioxidants.

Cocoa in Nigeria

Agriculture was Nigeria’s main source of foreign exchange prior to independence. According to reports, 58.4% of the foreign exchange earnings from 1960 to 1970 was the export crop subsector of the agricultural sector.

Then came the discovery of oil in the 1970s which led to some drastic shift in the political and economic landscape of the country.

Oil became the main focus for foreign exchange, displacing agriculture, as evident in the sharp decline in output from 305,000, to 100,000MT, and Cocoa export contribution dropping to 5.3% from 1970-1985.

Although the 1986/87 cropping season saw output improved from previous lows to around 200,000MT due to Government intervention initiatives to revive the sector, the journey back to the top has been slow, maintaining an average of just 4% between 1980 and 2000. The country’s undying love story with oil has seen other sectors struggle over the years.

Nigeria is the third largest exporter of cocoa in Africa behind only Ghana and Cote’d’ivoire and the fifth in the world behind Cote’d’ivoire, Ghana, Indonesia, and Brazil, according to recent figures.

Tips

To run your farm here are some tips to help you:

  • Make good arrangements with farmers who’d be on ground to monitor your farm on a regular basis. You can look for good incentives for them. The best is if your farm is closer to a village settlement.
  • When getting your farm land, you want to look for areas you know wouldn’t be commercialized in the next 20-30 years.
  • Weed 3-4 times a year.
  • Always ensure carrying out best farming practices to achieve healthy yields.
  • Take some time in educating yourself on the best practices, and always look to transfer those knowledge to the farmers working with you.

Cocoa harvest seasons in Nigeria

Harvest season for cocoa span from October to September.

October to February as the prevalent period for harvest, while from April/May to September, harvesting of smaller and mild crops are common.

Where to find cocoa in Nigeria

Ondo State produces 70% of cocoa in Nigeria, making it the highest producer in the country. Here is a list of cocoa producers in the country, in no particular order:

  • Ondo
  • Osun
  • Oyo
  • Ekiti
  • Ogun
  • Edo
  • Delta
  • Akwa Ibom
  • Cross river
  • Kogi
  • Kwara
  • Abia
  • Anambra

Cocoa export supply chain in Nigeria

Every party involved in the supply chain play a key role in the overall business outlook of cocoa export in Nigeria.

These parties are:

  • Smallholder farmers
  • Middlemen
  • Exporters

The cocoa supply chain would typically start from local farmers; Small scale farmers are spread across the several cocoa producing states in Nigeria.

Each farm is about 2-5 hectares, and would produce on the average 0.6MT per hectare.

The farmers need steady and ready buyers to guarantee in-flow of cash to reinvest in their business, pay up immediate outstandings, loans and expenses.

Meanwhile the middlemen stand in the gap between the farmers and the exporters. They’re the aggregators. They source directly from the farmers and supply to the exporters in bulk.

Challenges facing Cocoa smallholder farmers in Nigeria.

These are the major challenges facing Nigerian cocoa farmers:

  • Lack of sufficient access to incentives and government support
  • Difficult access to market; poor road channels leading to high cost of transporting farm produce from farm to market
  • Increasing running cost of production
  • Less favourable climatic conditions; Climatic conditions now are far less favourable to that in the 70s and 80s.
  • Seasonality of cocoa farming means farmers do not make money during off seasons, and these periods can be challenging times for the farmers.

Challenges facing Cocoa exportation business in Nigeria.

  • Volatility and unpredictability of foreign exchange.
  • Dwindling number of smallholder farmers due to uninterested budding  youth, and interest in other endeavours they feel is much more profitable.
  • High interest rates, to get financial credits and loans
  • Unstable political will.
  • Difficult port and customs regulations
  • Governing bodies who are key players in the value chain have over the years failed in providing adaptation and workable systems and policies to ensure ease of doing export business.

Top cocoa exporting countries in Africa

  • Cote’d’ivoire
  • Ghana
  • Nigeria
  • Cameroun

Top importers of cocoa in the world

  • Netherlands
  • USA
  • Germany
  • Malaysia
  • Belgium
  • Indonesia
  • France
  • United Kingdom
  • Italy
  • Turkey
  • Spain
  • Canada
  • Singapore

Top cocoa importers in Europe

  • Netherlands
  • Germany
  • Malaysia
  • Belgium
  • France
  • United Kingdom
  • Italy
  • Turkey
  • Spain

Governing organizations to follow as a cocoa exporter in Nigeria

  • The Nigerian Cocoa Association
  • World Cocoa Producers’ Organization
  • Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN)
  • Cocoa Framers Association of Nigeria
  • OWIT Nigeria

Opportunities in Cocoa Export Business

  • Surging global demand cocoa and cocoa futures, In 2011, the trading volume of cocoa futures on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) was 4.95 million tons, exceeding production by 750,000 tons.
  • In November 2011, global sales of chocolate confectionery crossed US$100 billion for the first time, with consumer demand for chocolate anticipated to continue increasing and possibly outstripping supply.
  • Cocoa processing market is estimated at $200 billion.

Getting started with cocoa export business

Next we’ll look at the three steps to take to get started as a cocoa exporter

  1. Set up your business plan
  2. Promote your business
  3. Fulfilling your orders.

Setup your business plan

A key component in planning your business is knowing your strengths and weaknesses.

You should look at what you’re capable of as against what you’re incapable in terms of capital, resources, reach etc. This would give you an idea on how to go about structuring your plan to meet your business goals.

In your business plan questions you want clear answers to are:

  • How do I get customers?
  • How am I going to maintain  supply to my customers?
  • Am I owning my own farm or leasing or partnering smallholder farmers?
  • Who are my key partners to help me achieve my supplies and fulfill my orders?
  • Which technology can I leverage to achieve my goals?
  • How am I advertising my product? What methods would I be employing? If we’re talking about online advertising, should it be Paid ads vs free ads, or combination of both?

Bottom line? To stay profitable, what strategy would best work for you based on what you have vs what you don’t have?

Remember, you’re dealing with international buyers, they’d be most likely be sophisticated and your business has to be well planned and presented, backed with the right principles of course.

If everything is well planned, you can achieve success even without spending too much capital. Also remember, cocoa business is evergreen, one cocoa tree can last for 30 years, producing constantly once it’s matured. So the initial cost might feel or look too much, it gets better over time with good rewards to follow.

Now that your well-thought-through business plan is ready, the next step is to

Register your business with appropriate governing bodies.

Register your business 

Exportation business is a serious endeavor. A lot of risks are involved, so anything to help reduce the risk from the side of your buyers should be encouraged to win them over.

That’s why it is necessary to register your business with all necessary bodies.

Registering with these organizations is necessary. Some of them would give you necessary support like low interest loans, trade information and support to help your business grow.

The good part of this is most of these bodies are online, so you can start from there.

Start your business registration online by clicking on the following links:

CAC (Corporate Affairs Commission) – Start the registration of your business online. Give your business credibility and visibility by registering your business as a legitimate business in Nigeria because international buyers would mostly do business with verified businesses. Start here: https://pre.cac.gov.ng/register/new

Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC)

The NEPC rules over all other apex institutions involved in the promotion, development, and diversification of exports in Nigeria.

Their activities involve:

  • Co-ordinating and facilitating export development in the country
  • Facilitating export promotion activities
  • Working with international trade agencies on cooperation and capacity building.

You can visit their official website here: https://nepc.gov.ng/ereg/exporter.

Or go straight to register your business with them here: https://nepc.gov.ng/get-started/e-registration/

Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT) Nigeria

Awesome for woman into international trade, you can join them and benefit a lot from partnering with international and local businesses, to getting low cost loans, and other wonderful benefits. You can read more on them and become a member here: https://owitnigeria.org/join-us/

Cost Analysis

Before we move ahead, let’s try to do a rough sketch of what it’d cost you to setup your cocoa export business.

Startup Expenses

Land(1 hectare) – N4M

Warehouse & drying facility- N2M

Laptop/desktop computer- N200,000

Cocoa seedlings – N210,000

Farm clearing and preparation- N30,000

Planting and workmanship- N100,000

Website building – N100,000

Promotion cost – N200,000

Registrations – N50,000

Packaging – N500,000

Transportation – N3M

Documentation- 50,000

Total = N9.34M

Monthly running cost estimation

Internet subscription – N10,000

Webpage maintenance – N30,000

Promotion costs – N200,000

Salaries –N250,000

Calls and communications-N5000

Office space- N10,000

Miscellaneous – N10,000

Total: N515,000

Other costs to consider is for custom brokerage and freight forwarding. Their costs arent fixed as it depends on several factors. But ensure to include them as variable costs.

What’s next?

If you’ve already set the ground running; you have your farm, business plan, registrations, and everything we’ve talked about so far up until now, I’m sure all you want is to be bombarded with calls from buyers, placing orders, and business booming.

Promote your cocoa business Online

How do you get international  buyers for your cocoa beans?

There are several ways. But we just cut to the chase and focus on our preferred way- the internet.

The internet is your fastest and most cost effective way to reach foreign buyers. It presents a mouth-watering prospect such that if gotten right, you can build an awesome, and well fulfilling business for yourself. 

Some Facts about the internet

  • More than 60% of the world’s population use the internet, that amounts to about 4.72billion people around the world [datareportal].
  • According to Netcraft, there are over 1 billion active sites on the web today and it’s number keeps changing every second.[Netcraft]
  • According to MOZ, Everyday, 77 percent of people use google at least three times to search for things online.
  • 54 percent of social users research products using social media [globalwebindex].

You can get your buyers online because people are using the internet to search for things to buy. The internet is one huge community, get plugged in.

What’s so beautiful is you don’t need to be a software guru to own and manage a website. You can outsource it.

Outsourcing is a fantastic way to leverage other people’s skills especially on something you’re not so good at, while you focus on other things.

To get buyers on the internet, you’d need an online presence. Your online presence just asks the question how easy and often are you found online? So to get started, here’s what you must do:

  1. Build a website/online store
  2. Manage the website
  3. Promote your website

What you need to build and run a website

  • Domain name
  • Hosting
  • Design
  • Maintenance

Website vs online store

Think of your website like a well prepared business card, only that it has much more details in it, and your online store is a brochure that contains your products and price listing.

If for you, the internet is a vital avenue to getting buyers then you might be doing yourself a disservice by choosing to use one over the other.

It’s all about online presence. Let your business be out there as possible, given it’s within your budget.

WebsiteOnline Store
You own the websiteYou’re renting a website within another person’s/company’s website
It can take lots of time and effort for buyers to see your products on google search.It takes little time to get customers to see your products on google search as your store is within a bigger website that’s well ranked on google search engine.
It would cost you lots of time and effort to build your brandIt can help you build your brand faster online
If done expertly, you might spend little and get free buyers and customersIt can be capital intensive, however if done properly, is worth every penny spent.
Table to compare having a stand-alone website vs running online marketplace store

In promoting your website and business online, there are two methods:

Organic method

You can get buyers without having to spend any money, this method can take time but is really worth the while if done properly. The best approach to this is giving something of value, and getting traffic as reward. You’d be focusing on ranking for relevant keywords that lead people to clicking your link to your website or web store. You then sell your products to the visitors of your website.

But it’s not so easy, because there are billions of websites out there competing for your prospects’ attention, hence the need to tilt the odds in your favour by ranking at least on the first page of searches relevant to your business.

Remember, the aim is to make the first page of google search.

Why?

According to this survey conducted by MOZ, 75 percent respondents preferred to click one of the top two results. They’d prefer to scan through the first search page to find relevant answers to their queries, or link to other results from page one.

Another interesting findings from the survey was respondents largely preferred to click on organic search results than click on advertisement.

Paid method

This is another route to making first page on relevant keywords on search engines. Advertisers bid on keywords and they pay per click once browsers get to your website through your link from the search page.

This requires you to have a good budget, and expertise to get good results. Results can be instant if done expertly.

you can advertise on:

Search engines

Search engines like Google, and Yahoo have Google ads, and Yahoo ads.  Advertisers bid for keywords, they pay per click once there’s a click on your link to your website or online store.

Other people’s website

You, or advertisers like Google and Yahoo can pay owners of particular websites to advertise on their platform. Owners of websites are then paid each time there’s a view on your ads displayed on that website. This is called pay per impression or pay per view.

Social media

Social media helps you connect with people on a personal level. You can really make a good impression of your business by having a good social media presence that connects with the people.

Take clean pictures, engage in quality conversations on relevant topics, showcase your expertise as a thought leader in your business.

Be creative.

Facts about social media

There’s been a staggering number of social media users in the world. Reports show there are over 3.5 billion active users.[emarsys, 2019]

Statistics show that one person spends 3 hours on average on social media everyday.

[globalwebindex]

Your task is to maintain steady flow of buyers while also building a brand people can trust through good farming practices and quality online presence.

Tips

  • Make sure you understand the nitty-gritty of running an online ads campaign, if you don’t, hire someone or outsource professionals to run for you.
  • In the case of advertising with a particular website, make sure you do your findings on the website to ensure their kind of visitors are the kind who can buy your product.
  • Your website should contain the following:
    • Company name
    • Vision and mission statements and a little bit about you. Eg when it was founded, your partners, your present customers, etc.
    • Description of your business values
    • Your products and production capacity
    • Production description
    • Email and contact information

Order fulfillment and getting paid

To export your goods, most exporters make use of freight forwarders, and custom brokers as they make lives easy for them. These are specialists in moving goods to different places in the world, and also handling of custom related issues.

Tips

  • Ensure your cocoa is exported in well ventilated cool, and dry conditions to ensure the beans can arrive at buyer’s destination without blemish.
  • Never agree on any agreements until you’ve agreed on payment method
  • Depending on your negotiation skills, your buyer can bear part of the shipping cost. Of course this would only work if there’s the element of trust in the equation.
  • If the relationship is not strong enough, buyers would most likely prefer a POD (payment on delivery) arrangement. If that be the case, it’s not a bad idea to request the buyer make down payment to show they’re serious about doing business with you.
  • In finding a freight forwarder, you should look out for those with good experience in shipping cocoa to your buyer’s location.
  • In your agreement with your buyer, ensure pricing is factored in. In Nigeria, the futures commodity exchange is still a concept the government is looking to support exportation in the country. Futures contracts can help buyers and sellers mitigate risk that occurs due to currency fluctuation. So you can agree with your buyer to peg your commodity price based on current global price such that if it changes in the future, you don’t incur loss.
  • Know your rights as an exporter to any country. It’s possible some of these foreign buyers can take you for a ride if you don’t know what’s within your rights as an exporter to their country, issues like what happens if your buyer decides to cancel their order last minute? Surely you shouldn’t bear the loss for that.

 You can visit the NEPC guide to get more information on logistics and freight https://nepc.gov.ng/get-started/logistics-freights/

Now that we’ve come to the end of this guide, we know not everything on this post can be assimilate once, so you can bookmark this and come back to it in the future. Feel free to drop your questions and comments on this topic.

Benefits of African Dry Ginger You Didn’t Know

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a plant belonging to the family Zingiberaceae alongside turmeric (Curcuma longa) and cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum).

Originating from South East Asia, it’s a rhizome (often referred to as ginger root) has been used for ages for both culinary and medicinal purposes. It has a strong unique smell as well as flavour.

Packed with highly beneficial phytonutrients, ginger is one of the most healthy spices in the world. It contains 2 potent bioactive substances– Gingerol and Shogaol. In fresh ginger, Gingerol is the most active biochemical ingredient. It gives its unique spiciness. Gingerol has anti-cancer, anti-fungal, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and gastroprotective properties. Thus, it provides the majority of the medicinal benefits of ginger.

Shogaol is the ingredient responsible for the pungent smell of ginger. When fresh ginger is dried, Gingerol is dehydrated to form Shogaol. This is why dry ginger is more pungent than its fresh counterpart. It is noteworthy that African dry ginger contains more gingerol and shogaol compounds than the Asian ginger making it more potent either as a spice or medicine.

This guide lists the five major benefits of African dry ginger.

It provides relief from a sore throat, nasal congestion, and cough

The pain associated with a sore throat is as a result of inflammation in the throat which is often caused by an infection. Ginger soothes the pain and provides some relief.

The antioxidants found in ginger fight pathogens present in the throat that could be causing a cough while also relaxing the respiratory muscles that tighten when coughing. During nasal congestion, the gingerol found in ginger thins out the mucus and reduces its production easing the discomfort the person may be suffering.

It helps fight nausea

Nausea is an uneasy feeling that often comes with the urge to throw up. A lot of conditions could cause one to feel nauseated such as morning sickness in pregnant women, motion sickness, a stomach infection, food poisoning, emotional stress, and so on.

Dry ginger is very effective in easing the symptoms of nausea. Research has proven that ginger is more effective in fighting nausea than medications and has fewer side effects. It does this by maintaining a stable digestive function and regulating the blood pressure to keep the body calm.

Ginger can treat stomach indigestion and other stomach-related issues

Ginger is a great remedy for stomach indigestion. Indigestion– medically known as dyspepsia– is any form of discomfort or pain in the upper abdomen. Symptoms may include abdominal pain, bloating, belching, and an acidic taste in the mouth.

Studies have shown that even little doses of ginger can relieve abdominal pain related to indigestion. Ginger boosts the secretion of saliva and gastric juices to aid proper digestion. It quickens the movement of food through the digestive tract which helps to reduce cramps, irritation as well as constipation. It’s anti-inflammatory effects block enzymes that could lead to bloating.

Ginger also helps to reduce the amount of gastric acid in the stomach which could be responsible for indigestion as well as the acid reflux related to it. By preventing the acid from flowing up into the oesophagus, ginger reduces the chances of gastric acid getting to the mouth and leaving a nasty taste there.

It could help with weight loss

Ginger boosts metabolism. This helps in burning off excess fat thus resulting in weight loss. Consumption of ginger has been linked with suppression in appetite, lower cholesterol and blood sugar level. It could even reduce the buildup of fat in the arteries which contributes to high blood pressure.

Ginger has been shown to help overweight people stay fuller for longer. This prevents them from having hunger pangs that will result in eating more food than could set back weight loss. Ginger can also help in burning fat in specific areas like the belly. It has a very significant effect on the waist-to-hip ratio.

african ginger oil

Ginger improves the health of the skin and hair

Topical application of ginger on the skin has several benefits. It’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects can be used to prevent skin issues such as acne. A ginger face mask will help unclog pores and kill any bacteria that could lead to the formation of acne on the face.

Ginger is also very helpful in treating hypopigmented scars i.e scars that are lighter than the skin tone. It rejuvenates dull-looking skin by fighting free radicals and boosting collagen production which in turn improves the elasticity of the skin giving it a healthy glow.

The hair also stands a lot to gain from ginger. Ginger fights dandruff and remove all crusty flakiness in the scalp. Ginger is used to treating bald spots on the scalp as it boosts the growth of hair from follicles. It also moisturizes the scalp, makes the hair shiny and thicker.

5 Useful Products Derived from Hibiscus

Hibiscus plants are very popular as ornamental plants that beautify gardens or landscape. Their large beautiful flowers come in different colours including white, pink, red, orange, peach, and yellow. It is a versatile perennial plant native to tropical regions although the hardy ones can be found in colder climates.

A member of the family, Malvaceae, the different species of the Hibiscus plant are cultivated for various reasons. For instance, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis and Hibiscus syriacus are cultivated for ornamental reasons while Hibiscus sabdariffa is cultivated for medicinal purposes.

Hibiscus can be made into a good number of products. Here are 5 useful products that can be derived from Hibiscus.

Hibiscus Tea

Hibiscus tea is made from the dried calyces of Hibiscus. It is the most popular product derived from the plant. Hibiscus tea is widely consumed in Africa, Asia, North America, and some parts of Europe.

It has a reddish colour with a tart taste that has led to it being called ‘sour tea’. It’s flavour has been compared to that of cranberries and can be served either hot or cold.

Preparation is quite easy. The calyces are steeped in hot water to extract the flavour from them. This mixture is then sieved to remove the tea and the calyces are discarded. On its own, Hibiscus tea does not contain any calorie or caffeine but it is usually sweetened with sugar or honey which adds some calories to it.

Sometimes, the calyces are steeped with ginger, lime, or pineapples to add some extra flavour. Hibiscus tea is very rich in vitamin c and antioxidants. Studies have proven it to be effective in reducing blood pressure and blood sugar, lowering blood fat level, boosting liver health, and having moderate antibacterial properties.

Asides from being ingested, this tea can be used as a hair spray to boost hair growth and hydrate the hair. It can also be used as a face toner to remove grit from the face.

Hibiscus Powder

This is formed grinding up the dried sepals of the Hibiscus plant. It can then be made into other beneficial products.

Examples of these products are:

Face-lifting face mask: Due to its richness in antioxidants and vitamin c, Hibiscus encourages collagen production in the face as well as elastin which tighten up the face and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

It has been dubbed ‘the botox plant’ due to these benefits. This face lifting face mask can be made by mixing some kaolin clay with hibiscus powder and some water. The mask should be washed off before it dries for easy removal, and the skin should be moisturized after. The effects of the hibiscus is seen immediately as the skin looks brighter and softer.

Exfoliating scrub: By mixing Hibiscus powder with some sugar, the physical exfoliation gotten from sugar is combined with the chemical exfoliation from the AHAs in Hibiscus which make a perfect scrub to slough off dead skin cells and unclog pores in the skin.

Hibiscus Oil

Hibiscus oil is created by an infusion of Hibiscus with any appropriate oil of choice. The dried petals are soaked in oil and placed in a double boiler in order to fasten the infusion of the nutrients into the oil.

The oil is useful for both skin and hair. When infused in avocado oil or olive oil, it can be used on the face as a facial oil. It can also be infused with coconut or almond oil, then massaged into the scalp. Hibiscus oil boosts hair growth from follicles and also helps to treat dandruff and stall greying of hair. It can also be used to coat the tips of hair strands to lock in moisture which will prevent tangling and breakage.

hibiscus oil

Hibiscus Soup

This soup is common among the Western people of Nigeria, especially people from Ekiti and Ondo states. It is a traditional soup that is usually cooked on special occasions, but some people make it regularly too.

It is made from dried white Hibiscus flowers. The flowers are soaked in hot water and ashes in order to remove the tangy taste. Then, they are added to a pot that already contains egusi, fish and pepper. It is devoured with any swallow of choice like pounded yam.

Hibiscus Cordage

Cordages are ropes or cords that are used for a variety of reasons. In survival situations, cordages could come in very handy. They can be used to tie up anything, make shelter supports, trigger wire, or a fishing line.

Materials used to make cordages should be tough enough to support any load it will be required to but also be flexible enough to twist or manipulate without breaking. Some Hibiscus stems are used to create cordages as they fit these descriptions. Hibiscus tiliaceus is especially used in making tough ropes due to its hardy stem. The stems are cut and the leaves shaved off. Then, they are twisted up to make them tougher.

Ultimate Guide to Cashew Nuts Production in Nigeria

Cashew nuts are gotten from the cashew tree which produces both the nuts and the cashew apple.

Cashew apples are edible and rich in vitamin C. They can be eaten raw, made into fruit juice or fermented into cashew wine. The nuts are rich in unsaturated fats and protein, low in sugar, and contain a lot of fibre.

They are also a great source of antioxidants especially polyphenols and carotenoid which help to reverse damage caused by free radicals in the body. Cashew nuts are sold with the shells removed as they contain a poison that can cause dermatitis.

The shells are used to produce a liquid called Cashew Nut Shell Liquid (CNSL). This liquid is used in paints, brake linings of vehicles, lubricants, varnishings, waterproofing, and so on.

Like the apple, the nut can also be eaten on its own, roasted or processed into cashew cheese or butter.

History of cashew nuts in Nigeria

Cashew nuts were first introduced in Nigeria in the early 16th century. Cashew trees help protect the land against erosion and deforestation, and this was one of the main reasons they were grown at first, especially in the Eastern region of the country.

The first plantations in the country were situated in areas like Eruwa and upper Ogun in the Western region, and Mbala and Oji in the Eastern region. The growth of the business was initially slow due to mismanagement and negligence on the part of the government, but it eventually picked up pace in the ’60s.

Currently, cashew is being cultivated in 19 states in the country according to the National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN). These states are Abia, Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Imo, Kogi, Niger, Nassarawa, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Taraba and Kwara. However, cashew can be grown virtually anywhere in the country.

Cashew Production

Currently, Nigeria produces 120,000 tons of Cashew nuts annually with about 320,000 hectares of land being cultivated for the crop. She ranks as the 12th highest producer of cashew nuts in the world.

The country used to rank a lot higher; in fact, it ranked second in the world in 2004 and between 2010-2012. Lack of funding and processing facilities, as well as infrastructural deficiencies, crippled the sector. Another problem is the fact that cashew trees play host to a wide variety of pests and diseases.

From its roots to its stems, branches, flowers and even the cashew apple, no part of the tree is immune to an infestation. Examples of pests that infest them are Analeptes trifasciata (Cashew stem girdler) that affects the stems, Pachnoda cordata drury (Fruit scrapper) that infests the fruits, Selenothrips rubrocinctus (Red-banded thrips), and so on. These pests can wreak so much havoc that an infestation by just the cashew stem girdler can result in a loss of about 55% in the eventual yield.

Cashew trees are also affected by a good number of fungal diseases. Examples of these are Lasiodiplodia theobromae and Botryodiplodia theobromine that cause floral and shoot die-back, Pythium ultimum that leads to root rot of the seedlings, and Penicillium spp that causes the cashew nuts to decay. Lasiodiplodia theobromae is specially notorious as it can cause up to 70% loss in the nut yield as well as shoot death.

Cashew Harvesting

Cashew trees usually start producing fruits between 18-36 months of planting. The fruits start to develop 6-8 weeks after pollination has occurred. The nuts develop first while the apples develop 2 weeks before the fruit falls.

Some farmers prefer to pluck the fruits before they fall to prevent rotting and theft. However, you can obtain high-quality nuts by separating the nuts from freshly fallen. The fresh ones can be dried in the sun.

dried cashew nuts

Distribution and how to Buy from Local Farmers

The Nigerian cashew sector is dominated by peasant farmers (they hold more than 60% of the cultivated land). These farmers supply their nuts to small traders who in turn sell to local buying agents. These local buying agents supply big companies outside the country where processing takes place. Cashew nuts account for 6-7% of the country’s non-oil earnings.

Before they can be exported, the seeds must meet certain criteria. They must be free from debris and insect damage. Also, must be thoroughly dried with a moisture content of less than 8.5%. The percentage of defects and impurities must be less than 5% for every 1kg sample. These criteria are put in place to control the quality of nuts that leave the country.

About 70-80% of the cashew nuts produced in Nigeria are exported raw. The processing industry is severely underdeveloped for now. This has a large impact on price as processed cashew nuts are worth more than three times the unprocessed ones.

Online marketplaces like Cokodeal allow you to easily connect with local farmers or traders with quality Cashew produce for sale.

Top 5 Places to Buy Genuine Commodities

Commodities are economic goods, usually unprocessed that are used as raw materials in the production of other goods and services, or resold. They are grouped into agricultural goods (e.g grains, sugar), livestock and meat, metals (e.g gold, iron ore), and energy (e.g crude oil).

Ordering for commodities like Shea butter, dry ginger and others for your business should be easy but there are often trust issues that can get in the way. To meet your demand, timing, cost and trustworthiness often come into play. However, finding genuine sellers of commodities is the first critically important step before even timing and cost.

Here is a list of the top 5 places to find these genuine sellers:

Physical trade events

Trade events are exhibitions where businesses in a particular industry display and promote their products to prospective clients. The events are sometimes open to the general public while others are classified as ‘trade-only’. You’ll usually find sellers of commodities (exhibitors), company representatives, top professionals within the industry.

Attending a trade event grants you access to special pricing offers and valuable insights concerning the commodity you’re looking to purchase. The presence of different sellers of the same commodity provides a quicker means to evaluate them, compare prices and get competitive information within a short space of time. Also, face-to-face interaction with the sellers makes it easier to discuss specific features and conditions. Such discussions can build a close relationship that could be beneficial in the future.

Another advantage of trade events is the avenue they create for buyers to connect with one other. Here, they can discuss issues and together, find solutions to specific problems they encounter.

Online trade marketplaces

Over the past decades, the world has experienced an increase in transactions of economic activities online. Covid-19 had helped accelerate the need for online interactions too.

Online trade marketplaces are e-commerce platforms where buyers meet sellers. A third-party, the platform, mediates between the buyers and sellers. Some of these marketplaces serve multiple industries such as Alibaba. While others are focused on a specific industry e.g Cokodeal, which focuses on connecting African exporters and international buyers of foodstuff and commodities. The benefits they offer are innumerable. Not only can you shop for commodities of your choice from the comfort of your home, but you can also register for free and communicate with the sellers online.

You have access to a large pool of suppliers without having to physically move around expending energy. These platforms usually require the sellers to display complete information about their commodities so the buyer can make an informed decision. There are commodity descriptions, photos, specifications and price. The seller can also specify if the stated price is negotiable or not. They also help verify the suppliers to ensure the safety of the platform.

One beneficial feature online trade marketplaces has is the availability of reviews. Former customers of a seller often leave reviews on the site. So any prospective buyer can read through and determine if the seller sells genuine commodities, is trustworthy, and has good customer service.

Online forums

Online forums such as Nairaland and Quora bring different people together to share their views on different issues.

There are subforums where people can discuss business issues, too. Sellers often take advantage of the online traffic on these sites to advertise their commodities. The online forums serve as a platform for buyers to openly discuss the price and features of the commodities with the sellers without making any commitment.

The only disadvantage is the fact that sellers are unverified and not moderated. But, buyers can some times research a seller by asking other buyers on the platform about them before buying their commodities.

Word of mouth

Word of mouth is a very powerful tool in business. Satisfied customers of a seller are always happy to refer new customers to the seller. Word of mouth is intensely personal as it takes a lot of trusts for people to make referrals.

Customers usually get no financial benefits in speaking well about a seller, so the believability of the recommendation is high. If a former buyer claims that a seller is genuine more often than not, it is true. This is also why reviews on online marketplaces are powerful – it’s another form of word of mouth.

Business directories

Business directories can be found online or in telephone books. Finding genuine sellers of commodities on business directories is quite easy.

The directories are listed by industry so you can quickly find sellers of whatever kind of commodities you’re looking for. The directories give the phone number, email and other important information about the seller. This helps in saving both time and money.

However, you have to already know what you want when using business directories. It’s often best to use an online marketplace or online forum and only use a business directory to cross-reference the address of the business.