THE National President of Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN) Comrade Adeola Adegoke has said that Nigerian Cocoa Farmers lose about N55 billion yearly.
Comrade Adegoke who disclosed this at the National Cocoa Summit and Award held in Abuja said the loss was as a result of unregulated and total liberalisation of the cocoa industry.
“The consequences of our nation unregulated or total liberalisation of the cocoa industry which has deprived Nigeria Smallholder cocoa farmers almost the sum of N55 billion yearly as a result of our the country not joining Ivory Coast and Ghana in the collection of $400 per tonne known as Living Income Deferential (LID) paid to cocoa farmers aside the cocoa floor price in those countries by the World cocoa buyers”, he said.
He lamented that cocoa which contributed the highest foreign exchange earnings in the 1950s to 1960s, has reduced its earnings due to myraid of challenges confronting the sub-sector.
Adegoke said the advent of climate change has added another factor that is negatively affecting the production of cocoa.
He called for the establishment of Cocoa Trust Fund.
According to him, the establishment of the trust fund will address poor funding and low investment in the cocoa sector, close infrastructure gaps and improve foreign exchange earnings for the country.
He said climate change, poor quality cocoa bean, over-reliance on cocoa bean for exportation and loss to illegal activities have deprived farmers 40 percent of proceed annually.
He added that millions of livelihoods are threatened daily as a result of the dwindling cocoa production and productivity which is presently at 300-400 kg/m per hectare of land.
While explaining that Nigeria was adjudged the second largest producer of cocoa in the past, he said the country currently produces about 250,000 metric tonnes.
In his remark, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, attributed Nigeria’s loss of cocoa power in the global market and competitiveness to lack of improved seedlings, pest infestation, pesticide contamination leading to a low quality of cocoa beans among others.
Abubakar who was represented by the Director, Federal Department of Agriculture, Dr Karima Babangida said the ministry is collaborating with all relevant stakeholders towards increasing cocoa production from the present 250,000 metric to 714,000 metric tonnes.
This is in line with the new National Cocoa plan as proposed to be sent to Federal Executive Council by the Ministry and the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, he said.
He stated that the National Cocoa Plan (2021 to 2030) is aimed at promoting a sustainable cocoa economy, resurgence in production and industrialisation to trigger a robust domestic consumption, farmgate prosperity,, youth engagement thereby leading to increased foreign exchange earnings from export of consistently superior quality beans and products.
He, added that the Federal government will be willing to support any state that is pushful in its quest to diversify the economy, especially in area of increase in cocoa productivity to ensure that Nigeria regains its position as one of the highest cocoa producing countries in the world.
In his remark, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Otunba Niyi Adebayo said Nigeria has the potential of becoming the leading trade hub of Africa leveraging on Africa continental free trade agreements( AFCFTA) but is yet to fully harness these potential for economic growth and development.
The Minister who was represented by a Director in the Ministry, Suleiman Adebayo, said the ministry of trade and investment has the mandate to enhance competitiveness and providing enabling environment that will boost Nigeria’s agriculture commodities sector.
He appealed to private sector groups to support growth of agriculture knowing that the Federal government is committed to policies geared towards development of the cocoa sector.