Edo cocoa farmers allege neglect by government

Cocoa farmers in Edo State have decried the lack of financial support from the government to boost the quality of cocoa production and revive the moribund industry.

The farmers said government’s support for the cocoa value chain was needed, to upgrade the quality being produced to international specifications, which would enable them compete with their contemporaries anywhere in the world.

“In the 60s, cocoa was the cash crop used to develop the nation. Today, there’s nothing coming from the federal or state government. We are just working on our own and it is affecting cocoa production in the state,” Thomas Ekpenriebe, Edo State chairman of Cocoa Farmers Association, told journalists in Benin.

Ekpenriebe urged the government to explore the prospects of exporting cocoa, saying the sector can generate foreign exchange and create employment opportunities for Nigeria’s teeming youths.

While identifying unfavourable climate- fire outbreak, Covid-19 and lack of regulatory boards as major hindrances to the sector, he advocated the re-establishment of cocoa boards to regulate the influence exerted by middlemen so as to help to revitalise the sector.

“The middlemen have always been there, there is no control unlike when we had Cocoa Board regulating the activities, so that we can identify licence buyers, but it is like an independent market.

“Today, the federal and state governments are not regulating. Even if we as an association want to fight it, how long can we do it? So, the middlemen are always there,” he added.

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