• Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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BusinessDay

‘Adulteration, improper processing work against cocoa value’

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Stakeholders in the produce sub-sector of the nation’s agricultural economy have described downward fluctuations of cocoa price as a major threat to cocoa production and marketing, saying such a situation came up as a result adulteration, improper processing and other unwholesome activities of some dubious farmers and produce marketers.

The stakeholders, who attended an annual Produce Stakeholders and Cocoa Season Workshop held in Abeokuta at the weekend, believed that Nigeria’s annual production, quality and value of cocoa beans should have been improved and competed favourably in international market if efforts were made to curtail the unwholesome activities of some cocoa farmers.

Speaking seperately at the event, Ronke Sokefun, Ogun State commissioner for agriculture; Muyiwa Akinsola, director, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development; Olukayode Olubakin, produce officer; Olumide Timileyin, a cocoa farmer, among others, declared that cogent efforts be made to ensure that quality, quantity and value of cocoa were improved if Nigerian cocoa must compete at the international market.

Olubakin disclosed that cocoa beans lose value and quality when farmers and marketers mix produce with foreign matters in order to increase the quantity and profit, coupled with tampering with graded cocoa bags and seals as well as improper processing of produce from harvesting, splitting, extraction, fermentation, dying and storage.

Akinsola said cocoa and other cash crops could generate wealth for producers, marketers and the country at large if sharp practices that retard cocoa were jettisoned and given priority, but adding that government intervention on cocoa production would be enhanced for high productivity.

The Ogun State commissioner for agriculture solicited public-private support in the area of farmers’ and produce marketers’ sensitisations on cocoa production, harvesting, processing and marketing according to the acceptable international standards in order not to lose quality and value, saying government would find means of helping farmers in cocoa production.

Sokefun said that the annual programme which is meant to focus on improving quality and quantity of produce in the State for local consumption, industrial processing and exports would be sustained to empower farmers on production and marketing, noting that the programme would ensure a successful cocoa planting season and achieve revenue target of both stakeholders and government.

She said: “Before oil was discovered in Nigeria, cocoa was the greastest earner of revenue for Nigeria. Among non-oil revenue generation, cocoa still generates the highest. This fact engenders the desire of the government to develop the sub-sector and as a demonstration of this noble intention, cash crops development is of high priority to our government.”

The commissioner revealed that already government has established plantations for various cash crops across the state with a cocoa plantation at Alagbagba, in Odeda, Ogun Central; and Cashew plantations at Afon, Ogun West; jist as she said that plans had reached advanced stage to establish a kolanut plantation in Remo, Ogun. East Senatorial District.

But, Olumide Timileyin, one of the participants and cocoa farmer wanted more collaborative efforts between government at all levels and stakeholders in produce sub-sector of the nation’ s agricultural economy, adding that the stakeholders in the industry are to partner government and investors to ensure that Nigerian cocoa beans have high value and quality for local consumption and exports.

RAZAQ AYINLA