The National President of the Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN), Comrade Adeola Adegoke, has lamented the total deregulation of cocoa sector after the dissolution of commodity board in 1986, saying the move set the industry backward without any appreciable progress in quality, production, productivity and fair market mechanism to support farmers.
This was following President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s decision to reinvigorate the National Commodity Board as part of efforts to support the Federal Government’s food sufficiency strategy.
Adegoke said, “The smallholder cocoa farmers have continued to bear the full cost of cocoa production without any appreciable support from the government at all levels, unlike what was obtainable during the cocoa board era in 1986 as being done in Ghana and Ivory Coast that still retained their boards and currently boasting of production capacity of one million and two million metric tonnes, respectively, while Nigeria’s production capacity is hovering around 300,000 – 350,000 metric tonnes,” he said.
However, Adegoke, said the cocoa farmers will not support the purchasing power to be given to the board again – apart from buyers of the last result, and play a major role in the regulation and development of the sector due to the bad experience suffered by the farmers when they were cheated by the then board via price manipulation that led to the dissolution.
“The current autopilot system in the cocoa sector must be stopped to make our cocoa competitive and spur investment that has continued to elude us as a result of a free market without regulation that aided fraud, cheating, waste, low productivity and production, no plan, circumvention, poor quality, standardisation compromise and low livelihood of the cocoa farmers.”
According to Adegoke, food sufficiency has always been the major goal of any serious government, emphasised that for any nation to survive, food security is the key and the major determinant of any strong economy – import and export ratio.
“President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s food security plans through the Security Council purview – especially Agriculture and Water Resources, must not be a mere word with all actions deployed to create food sufficiency in due time.
“Self-sufficiency is the key to securing any nation and Mr. President was right with the decision of the Federal Government in this direction. However, the current high cost of energy must have rubbed-off or seriously impacted the President’s intention in this regard, considering the current skyrocketing input price and its negative effect on the cost of cocoa or Agro production for the smallholder farmers.
“We do not know how Mr. President would solve this energy crisis, but we know that the objective might be impacted negatively at present if urgent measures are not put in place to solve the problem and save the smallholder cocoa farmers from degenerating into more poverty beyond control thereby negatively rubbing-off the gains of food security. ”