By James Sowole in Akure
Citing supply of fake and substandard inputs allegedly by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN) has raised the alarm that the country may witness low cocoa production in 2018/2019 season.
CFAN stated this at a news conference addressed by its president, Chief Raimi Adeniji in Akure, Ondo State capital lamenting that the same reason was responsible for low cocoa output in 2017.
Adeniji, who was flanked by the association’s National Secretary, Mr. Adeola Adegoke and the National Vice President, South West, Mr. Ayodele Joseph, said the practice would have negative effects on the nation’s non oil earning.
Adeniji also said apart from the issue of the alleged fake and substandard input, fire incidents that ravaged many farm plantations, would also contribute to the low cocoa production.
The CFAN president therefore urged President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh to urgently look into the matter for the betterment and improvement of cocoa production in 2018.
He recalled that most problems encountered by farmers last year, was due to the supply by contractors of substandard inputs.
Adeniji enumerated some of the substandard inputs procured and supplied by the contractors to which include jute bag, solo pump, fungicide (champ dp) cutlasses among others.
“This has distorted the flowering and untimely ripening of the cocoa pods and may result into further declining of Nigeria cocoa beans production in the year 2018/2019 if the procurement of cocoa inputs by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture is not reviewed.
“We want to appeal to Mr. President and the Minister of Agriculture to realize that in spite of our numerous complaints, the ministry still went ahead to award fresh contract to those who supplied the earlier unwanted, fake and substandard inputs without considering the implication on the cocoa and the farmers”, he lamented.
The association also appealed to the President and the minister to assist the cocoa farmers across the country, who lost their farms to fire during the dry season last year.
He explained that letters had been written to the minster for agriculture on the incidents without any response.