Farmers lament hurdles trailing abolition of cocoa boards
• Association distributes production handbooks to farmers
The Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN) has lamented numerous challenges confronting farmers and other stakeholders following the abolition of cocoa commodity board as recommended by the International Monetary Funds (IMF) during the infamous Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP).
Identified challenges, according to the association, include lack of coordination of cocoa production, aggregation and marketing, as well as disruption of quality inputs and good agricultural practices as embraced by international stakeholders.
The National President of CFAN, Adeola Adegoke, said this while distributing a cocoa handbook (Good Agronomical Practices (GAP) booklets) to smallholder cocoa farmers in Akure, Ondo State, recently.
Adegoke said the association had been representing the interest of smallholder cocoa farmers in Nigeria since 1999 when it was formed, helping to ameliorate some of the challenges.
He said CFAN was formed to fill the gap in the cocoa industry after the abolition of the cocoa board in 1986.
The abolition, Adogoke lamented, had robbed the sector of strong and coordinated stakeholders such as buyers, processors and exporters.
“We can conclude that the birth of CFAN has strengthened the unity, voice and coordination of smallholder cocoa farmers.”
“Let me acknowledge the giant strides recorded in the cocoa sector by the various past governments of Ondo State, especially the feat recently recorded by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, for making the state to remain the highest cocoa-producing state in Nigeria with the current production of 85,000 tonnes of cocoa beans, representing 40 per cent of the total in Nigeria,” he said.
He recalled that Nigeria was once rated as the second largest cocoa producer in West Africa in the 1950’s with 590,000 tonnes of cocoa beans yearly.
The association, in conjunction with Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), EBAFOSA, Harvest-field Industries Limited, Federal Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, cocoa-producing state governments and other stakeholders, is distributing the handbook to farmers free of charge to boost production.
“The need to enlighten and train our cocoa farmers on responsible use of pesticides, good agronomical practices, child labour eradication, certification, traceability, avoidance of deforestation, ecosystem and climate change,” among others, necessitated the production of the handbook, he said.
The handbook, Adogoke explained, would satisfy the EU’s demand for ‘Due diligence’ in the world cocoa supply chain, and would help to prevent the threat to ban all cocoa beans not sustainably sourced.
“The poor cocoa quality being experienced by buyers and exporters, which has degraded and devalued the once preferred Nigeria’s cocoa beans at international markets, is not acceptable to us any longer. Our smallholder cocoa farmers must be guided and supported on responsible and acceptable international cocoa practices without any excuse,” Adegoke said.