BusinessDay

Report of EU plan to ban Nigeria’s cocoa export false, say farmers

The cocoa farmers association has said that reports circulating the media of a planned European Union ban on Nigeria’s cocoa export are false.

The association denied the report in a statement made available to BusinessDay, saying that there is no such decision by the EU countries to ban the country’s cocoa exports over farmers’ inability to meet the maximum residue limits set by the union.

“No such communication has also come to Cocoa Association of Nigeria which was established in 1986 as the umbrella body for ALL cocoa stakeholders, from research, through farming, input provision, trade, export, processing, manufacture, and consumption,” said Mufutau Abolarinwa, national president, Cocoa Association of Nigeria (CAN).

“When issues surrounding MRLs came up about 15 years ago, CAN champion the sensitization of members, particularly the farmers, on the dangers of improper and inappropriate use of pesticides in cocoa production and we worked with Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), Crop Life Nigeria, input importers and distributors, and development agencies in the cocoa space, as well as undertook practical demonstration throughout all the cocoa producing states in Nigeria.”

“We can confidently affirm that at no time was Nigeria in the red list of any cocoa importing or consuming country, then or now,” he said.

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However, he said the association cannot hide from the reality that there had been incidences of poor, adulterated and sometimes abused pesticides in cocoa production but with regular interaction with farmers, increased training for exporters and capacity building among farmers on best agricultural practices in cocoa things are rapidly improving.

“In addition, spraying gangs had been trained and deployed by different groups within the industry that support farmers in the application of approved agrochemicals for cocoa.

“It is also noteworthy that CRIN has issued a regularly updated list of approved pesticides for cocoa, which is strictly and generally adhered to by our members.”

He noted that a large percentage of cocoa farmers in the country have been captured in the global traceability net, adding also that a large number of farms in Nigeria have been mapped and farmers are periodically trained on GAP and responsible pesticide usage.

“This qualifies them for premium which is paid in hundreds of millions of naira every year. Nigeria currently produces over 270,000 metric tons of cocoa and nearly 80% is exported as beans,” he further said.

“It is unimaginable how anyone could then present Nigerian cocoa farms and farmers in a bad light. It is quite unfortunate and should not be disseminated amongst us, especially at a time when the social media thrives in negative news,” he explained.

He added that the association wishes to affirm that there is no threat about banning cocoa from Nigeria.

Abolarinwa said that farmers have continued to invest billions of naira to increase the country’s cocoa production, and export proceeds while providing jobs and impacting rural communities.

“Our contribution to the nation’s economy exceeds N400billion per annum from the sale of cocoa beans and secondary products. There are over 500,000 cocoa farmers in 14 major cocoa producing states, over 100,000 factors and licensed buying agents.”

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