From Umar Dankano, Yola
The National Gold Cocoa Growers Association of Nigeria, Adamawa State Chapter has cried out of alleged marginalization from National Cocoa programme in Nigeria, despite being active in the product production.
The state Chairman of the association, Alhaji Usman Biri disclosed the development in an interview with News Men in Toungo, headquarters of Toungo Local Government Area of the state.
Biri regretted that, the members of the association in the state were sidelined from benefiting the federal governments’ Cocoa intervention funds.
“Since 2005 to date, we have being witnessing yearly increment in production and bumper harvest of the Cocoa.
“But despite all theses progress, our members have not received any assistant from federal government Cocoa production intervention fund.” Biri. According to him, the cocoa farmers in the state were extremely happy for the continuos bumper harvest recording despite government negligent and poor market outlets.
“Adamawa is among the cocoa producing states and in February 2012. We have over 300 registered farmers in three local government areas of the state. Our major challenge is lack of government support and stable market outlets,” Biri lamented.
He decried that, over one hundred registered cocoa farmers dumped the business to cassava, yam and other farm productions due to lack of support and poor market outlets.
He called on the government and other stakeholders concern to jointly revive the national cocoa marketing board to rescue the remaining farming from total collapse.
He disclosed that in 2013, in one of his farms, he harvested no less than 1,321 kilogrammes of cocoa and the major cocoa producing areas in the state are Toungo, Ganye and Jada local government areas.
According to Biri, he has planted about 3,000 trees of improved variety of cocoa in one of his farms on Ganye-Toungo road.
He further explained that the cocoa seed being producing from Adamawa was among the best variety in the country He opined that if government would well support the cocoa farmers to harness the production, especially in the northern part of the country as their counterpart in the south, hundreds of millions of naira would be realized yearly as revenue income from the sector.
Biri confirmed that cocoa business was far profitable than oil if properly harness and complained of lack of official markets as among the challenges that led to the decline in the production of cocoa
production in the state.
“ We sell our commodity to the black marketers at low price, who usually come from Southern part of the country ,” he said.
He maintained that the ugly trend was affecting mass production of the commodity in the state hence Federal and State Governments have been urged to take concrete steps to resuscitate cocoa farming in the state.
Commenting on the development Alhaji Aliyu Abubakar, a spokesman for the cocoa farmers made the appeal in Yola. Abubakar said that in 1999, about 70 farmers were officially registered and embraced cocoa farming when federal government introduced the programme.
He confirmed that in 2010 no less than 300 farmers embraced the farming.
He regretted that since the introduction of the programme in 1999, there had been no sustained support to the farmers to ensure continuity.
“ As a result, many of my colleagues abandoned cocoa farming in spite of the fact that our area is good for it.
He said farmers were only assisted once with water pumps about 10 years ago following the introduction of the cocoa programme.
Abubakar added that the introduction also led to the setting up of the National Cocoa Production Programme farm in the state which was abandoned.
“Officials of the cocoa production farm have since left. They only pop in when someone is coming from the headquarters to make promises and disappear”, Abubakar said.
Confirming the development, Malam Ilyasu Mu’azu, the state’s Desk Officer for Cocoa and oil palm production told NAN that government at the state level was making all it can to support the farmers.
Mu’azu said that the state government had registered more than 200 Cocoa and oil palm plantation farmers in three local government areas.
According to the desk officer, arrangement is concluded to train the farmers in efforts to boost the production of the two important commodities in the state.
He listed the areas to include Toungo, Ganye and Jada.
“Government had captured about 200 cocoa and oil palm plantation farmers in three local government areas of the state.
“And arrangement is in place to train the farmers in various plantation techniques before end of 2014,” Mu’azu said.
On the oil palm, he admitted that a total of 10,500 sprouted nuts were received from the federal government and over 90 per cent of the nuts had been raised up to post nursery stage.
He said about 100 hectares of land had been cleared for the plantation in the state.
On the cocoa production, he said that since 1999 when the cocoa programme came up, no any physical support was rendered to the farmers.