In order to increase Cocoa production from the current 250,000 metric tones (MT) to500,000 MT in the next five years, the Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN) has urged the Federal Government to establish a development fund.
CFAN, in a communiqué issued at the end of the National Cocoa Summit held recently, highlighted challenges affecting the sector to include inadequate extension /other support services, land tenure system resulting in fragmentation cocoa farms, small size farms, and low income.
Other challenges mentioned are non-compliance with good agricultural practices, absence of quality testing, certification and traceability from farm gates, lack of access to premium pricing, poor coordination of sectoral activities, high cost of processing, and multiple taxations.
The communiqué noted that the establishment of a development fund would, among others, address the challenges especially as they affect smallholders farmers.
Adeola Adegoke, the CFAN President, when unveiling the Association’s headquarters in Abuja, said ‘the body would launch ‘Good Agricultural Practice(GAP)’ training book for smallholder cocoa farmers to push the country’s cocoa production with the current 250,000MT, to 500,000 MT in the next two years.
Also, he said, the body would want a situation where cocoa of Nigerian origin would be certificated in an environment free of child labour and deforestation in line with the international standards.
Adegoke said:’’Our focus, as a nation, is to surpass the production capacity of both Ivory Coast and Ghana in the next five years through sustainable cocoa production, where we would have a realistic cocoa pyramid in the world to grow our foreign exchange earnings and Gross Domestic Product(GDP).’’
He urged farmers to improve their cocoa beans quality to prevent Nigerian Cocoa from being rejected at the international market, a situation that could lead to blockage of other opportunities that could improve the livelihood of Nigerians.
The CFAN President said the association has decided to set up a task force on monitoring and enforcement to make sure that smallholder farmers follow the required standards outlined in the GAP book, especially concerning the safe use of pesticides.
He, therefore, urged the federal government to consider participating in the arrangement between cocoa-producing countries and international cocoa buyers for the patent of Living Income Differential(LDI) of $400 pre-tone above the floor price of cocoa farmers.