Civil SocietyOn June 10, 2024

‘Take Advantage of Boom in Cocoa to Recreate Economy’ - Cocoa Farmers Tells FG

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The President of the National Cocoa Farmers Association, Comrade Adeola Adegoke has raised concerns that the Nigerian Government is yet to take advantage of the boom in cocoa which can recreate the nation’s economy.


He said that based on the reality of the existing cocoa prices in the world there is no doubt that the farmers are smiling to the banks as against previous years when the farmers were wallowing in poverty.


At the weekend, he spoke at a Cocoa sector stakeholders' roundtable on Nigeria’s readiness to comply with the EUDR by the National Cocoa Management Committee (NCMC) held in Abuja.


Speaking on the sidelines of the roundtable, he said there is a need based on the richness of Nigeria in cocoa, for the Government to develop a special interest in Cocoa, the highest foreign exchange earner today at N11m per ton.


He said that the cocoa economy would ameliorate the criminality in the forex.


“If we are having a ton of cocoa for N11 million at present, it shows the potential that the cocoa economy can bring in terms of the forex challenges we are still battling with

“So that is why we believe Nigeria cannot look away. And in those olden days, when we had professors they were traced to be the children of cocoa farmers.”


He said, wealth was synonymous with cocoa farmers when Nigeria was a leading producer but that when the oil came and distracted the government, investment in cocoa went down and the farmers became poor,“ But something happened in between, and that is why we say, yes, this is an opportunity for Nigeria. Because the problem we are having is that we are having issues with production.


“What we are having, we are having issues with forex. Cocoa can solve some of these things. When we make more forex Nigeria makes more money. When Nigeria makes more money, we can put more money into production.


“So cocoa is a game changer, it can change the narratives from a consumption economy to that of the production economy.


So with this excitement we are witnessing today with the cocoa economy, with this kind of getting a ton of cocoa at N11 million which is unprecedented, I wonder if anybody will take to Yahoo Yahoo, I don’t know how you can surpass this kind of money-making treasure.


“So this is a game changer for the government to invest more in the system, invest more in the life of cocoa farmers, to empower their livelihood, create a kind of production, encourage our youth to go into it. “Let’s support our existing farmers.


Let’s create a kind of backward integration whereby Nigeria will not only be exporting raw materials, as at today we export about 90% of our cocoa raw. We don’t need that. We need to create jobs. We need to kick-start our economy.


“We need to make sure that we support the processing. We need to make sure that the byproduct of our cocoa in value additions is very important. These are important things that we can create serious investment.


“Ghana today relies more on the cocoa economy. No doubt about that, don’t forget that originally, Nigeria was almost the largest producer of Cocoa, and today where are we?

And we can’t continue like this.


“I can tell you, with what we’re having in the cocoa economy today, it’s a kind of prospect for the government. It’s a win-win situation for the farmers, the valuation operators, for the industry players, the government will make more money the state will also make more money and the local government will make more money.


“It creates jobs and it’s a kind of excitement to discover youths because youths want to be convinced that they can make reasonable money. With this, I wonder how much you’ll be making as Yahoo, Yahoo advocate.


“If you have three tons of Cocoa, you are already talking of N33m. And I think this is an eye-opener.


“It gives a kind of future for our country and this can readjust our economy and reawaken our GDP and make our country work well and solve the problems of our forests.”


On the issue of Nigeria's Cocoa not meeting the EU standard, he said at the World Cocoa Conference held in Brazil in 2024, for the first time in the history of the Conference, the living income became a big priority.


“As of today, now, a living income has become a fundamental right, just like we have child labor as a fundamental issue that you cannot just deprive any child of their access to education. You can’t put heavy loads on a child and you can’t have children that are supposed to be in school working for you. It is a crime.


“Likewise we are having a living income for our farmers. You cannot just be buying irresponsibly and expecting a responsible cocoa economy. So the highlight was that there should be a decent price, a living price for our cocoa as a right of every farmer.


“So it shows that farmers will now try to be encouraged to adhere strictly to the practices.

“Let me tell you when Nigeria was known to be the best cocoa in the whole world ahead of Ghana, it was the same incidence where our farmers were making more money.


“People have reasons to invest more when they make more money, you understand, it’s an incentive. But the moment you are not making money from it, the incentive is not there

“It is because of the demoralization farmers suffered that has affected our compliance. But I can tell you that our farmers with this level of what we are asking, everybody is ready to do the necessary thing.


“You apply your pesticides and fertilizers reasonably by making sure you don’t over-saturate your farms with chemicals that give the residues.


“There are a lot of issues and I said Nigeria must start to invest in capacity building. Do we have extension workers? How many extension workers do we have? They are not there when you make a comparison with the older days.


“We had extension workers that had motorcycles but go to most of these ministries today, there are no extension services. The job of an extension worker might be a ratio of one to 50 farmers. Do we have that? We don’t have that.


“That’s why I say the government should invest in cocoa. It means the government will invest in research and development through the Cocoa Research Institute. The government must also invest in inputs for farmers that are subsidized.


“In terms of seedlings, there are varieties that yield fruits in 18 months. They give one and a half or two and a half tons per hectare.


“These are issues. For example, Nigeria is falling behind about 300 to 400 kilograms per hectare. Where we are supposed to be producing about close to 800 kilograms per hectare. You know that we are losing.


“So this is exactly what we need, capacity building, we need investment. And like I said, why are our factories not working? Why are we exporting at a 90 percent rate? We can’t continue. Why are our youth jobless when we have raw materials that can do all these things?


With the Cocoa economy, “We can’t be talking about the forex crisis, we can’t be talking about inflation, if we are not doing the backward integrations and what of the by-products, what are we doing in value additions on some of these things.


“These are things that are critical and germane to uplift each of the communities that are associated with the production of cocoa.”       


(National Update)          

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