COVID-19: Ondo cocoa farmers seek govt assistance

COCOA Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN) has called on government to put in place measures that would mitigate the effect of Coronavirus pandemic on the production of cocoa and the economy of the country.

The Cocoa farmers who expressed fears over the loss they may suffer due to the pandemic ravaging the globe urged governments to rise up and support all the cocoa producing states in the country.

The National President of CFAN, Mr. Adeola Adegoke, stated this during the presentation of 1000 hand sanitizers, 5000 nose masks and 3000 cartons of noodles to Ondo State government by Olam Nigeria Limited,

According to Adegoke, the Federal Government needs to intensify effort on the anchor borrowers scheme and see how they could increase capacity of an average peasant cocoa farmer in order to meet the 325,000 metric tonnes.

Adegoke noted that impact of COVID-19 on agriculture was more disastrous and killing than the virus itself, saying it would be difficult for the cocoa farmers to produce at optimal rate this year because the lockdown has disrupted farming activities.

He said over 350,000 cocoa seedlings grown with support from Olam Nigeria are in the field ready to be distributed but the lockdown has prevented farmers from moving to farm to commence farming activities.

He said: “Farming has been disrupted by the lockdown because there is no transportation. Labourers cannot go to the farm due to the principle of social distancing

“Farmers cannot buy input. You cannot do agriculture without inputs. It has impacted seriously in our activities.

“In 2019, Olam provided facilities for 100,000 cocoa seedlings and they were successful. We have 350,000 cocoa seedlings in the field ready to be distributed to Ondo cocoa farmers.

“Farmers cannot go to their farms. They don’t know who to meet with so as not to get COVID-19. They are in their houses. Going to the farms, they need agro -chemicals. It is having effect. I don’t think we will meet our 100,000 metric tons this year in Ondo. Olam is providing inputs.”

Speaking during the presentation, Branch Manager of Olam, Arun Karthick, said the firm donated the items which included hand sanitiser, nose mask and food items to cushion the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic on the people of the state.

He also disclosed that the firm has been supporting cocoa farmers, in various ways, saying over 8000 cocoa farmers in the state has benefitted from Olams gestures towards cocoa production.

He said: “We are impacting their lives on a day-to-day basis. We are helping them improve yields of the cocoa crops. With that, they will get improved income.

“We are making videos to educate them on ways to avoid COVID-19, We do radio jingles and through the community representatives we are reaching out to the farmers.

“COVID-19 is a global epidemic and causing a lot of havoc. It is time for companies to pick up their corporate social responsibility. We are giving back to the people where we have been working for the past 25 years.”



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