Experts and scientists said Nigeria can boost production with improved seedlings, fertilisers, new farming methods, pesticides and better coordination among research bodies.
"There is great future for the industry in Nigeria," said Ranjana Bhattacharjee of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan.
"Farmers can be assisted to raise output from an average of 300kg per hectare to 800kg per hectare to boost their productivity and income.
"What is needed is concerted effort by all the stakeholders on how to provide farming materials to farmers to boost their output."
Bhattacharjee said Nigeria should take a cue from Ivory Coast and Ghana which process cocoa beans into chocolate and other products to earn more money.
Nigeria used to have more than 20 processing factories but poor electricity supply and other amenities cut that back to three.
One scientist at the state-run Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), who asked not to be identified, said funding was an issue for research.
"At CRIN, you will find aged trees that are no longer producing. Some of them are as old as the institute itself," he said. CRIN was set up over 60 years ago