• Sunday, December 03, 2023
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Cross River cocoa farmers decry omission in allocation committee

We earned N122.89bn from cocoa beans in Q1 — FG

Cocoa farmers in Cross River have faulted the composition of the new cocoa allocation committee recently constituted by the state government.

The farmers, under the aegis of Cocoa Landlords Communities Committee, made this known in a statement issued by the Secretary, Chief Asu Ndep, in Calabar on Sunday.

Aside describing the composition of the committee as lopsided, Ndep also objected to its term of reference.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the state government had, on Thursday, inaugurated the committee to pilot the affairs of the cocoa value chain across the state.

Ndep noted that the terms of reference and non- representation of the group would erode the gains recorded in the past years.

Read also: Cocoa farmers demand creation of regulatory board

He also faulted the plan to abandon the “Smart-Gov. Platform” used by immediate past administration to defray the 16-year debt owed the committee.

“The new policy made by state government on cocoa allocation excluding the landlords communities committee is out of point.

“We are already conversant with the template used by previous administrations to defray the long standing debt.

“We took the previous administration to the High Court and the court granted us ruling that forced the government to defray the debt.

“How can the government set up cocoa allocation committee without any of our representatives and you think we will honour their committee?

“The immediate past government made sure that all areas of estate rents and royalties payable to the landlords communities were paid into government account through the smart.gov platform,” he stated.

The statement pointed out that the only convenient mode of payment for them was the Smart-Gov platform because of the remittance of their own percentage payment from the proceeds.

Read also: How Nigeria can increase cocoa production, compete in global market

NAN learnt that landlords communities had donated their lands to the state government for the cultivation of cocoa in the state.

The state Commissioner for Agriculture, Crop and Irrigation, Mr Johnson Ebokpo, had, during the inauguration, said that funds realised by the committee would henceforth be paid into a designated government account.