Mr Ademola Adegoke, the National President, Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN) on Monday said Cocoa farmers lost five per cent of their farm produce yearly due to lack of support from stakeholders.
Adegoke made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, while listing some of the challenges that contributed to the gross fall of Cocoa production in Nigeria.
He said that going by the data of output of crops in Nigeria, there had been a downturn that had affected cocoa production from 2011 to 2015 and investment in the sector.
According to him, this has posed a great concern to the association and has also affected farmers’ income thereby increasing poverty among farmers.
“We believe the nation is losing millions of revenue in this regard with farmers at the suffering end.
“With this percentage of loss, we believe it is as a result of things left undone by stakeholders in the sector.’’
Adegoke said in the western region, the story of cocoa was different as the production of the commodity was about four million metric tonnes, but presently, Nigeria is only producing less than 250,000 tonnes.
“We heard that in Nigeria, only a small amount comes to farmers as revenue and how do we intend to grow the sector.’’
He said in Ghana, there were interventions but in Nigeria what intervention do we have?
“We believe to grow the economy, there are lot of things needed to be done; the issue of irrigation is very important and most of our rehabilitation of cocoa farms which are in jeopardy was because of the heat waves.
“We call on government, private sector and farmers to come together to proffer solutions in this area,’’ he said.
He said another challenge facing cocoa farmers was finance, there were a lot of problems on finance from government and other institutions to support farmers grow their produce.
According to him, when a farmer has a farmland and cocoa trees, he cannot use the land and the cocoa to secure loans unless he goes to exporters to be guarantors.
“I think one having the land and trees should be enough to access loan, this area needs serious attention from the government to improve the sector.’’
Adegoke said that Nigeria was the seventh in exporting cocoa because Côte d’Ivoire produces about 250 million metric tonnes while Nigeria produces 240,000 metric tonnes.
He said a lot of factors such as infrastructure such as the roads and many of them were cut off from the farms and lack of electricity.
“Health care and farm settlement abound while people are talking about Ruga. Why do we not expand the farm settlement which comprises Ruga and others.’’
He said another problem was the high cost of inputs more than the cost of output which was making it difficult for farmers to survive at the end.
“How do you want an average farmer to survive when the cost of inputs is more than the cost of production output?
“What happens to the sector when inputs are going high and the market for cocoa is going down,’’ he queried.
Adegoke, however appealed to the government and private sector to come to the aid of the farmers.
“We believe that if government and stakeholders should come together to salvage the sector, the nation will be the better for it.’’