More than two years after the Federal Government announced a N100 billion Cocoa Sector Development Fund to support cocoa farmers and processors in the country, the initiative remains at the level of a proposal, the Founder, Centre for Cocoa Development Initiative, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Mr. RoboAdhuze, has said.
He said the Federal Government’s inability to walk the talk by translating the proposal into reality constituted a serious setback to Nigeria’s plan to reposition itself to extract value from the cocoa industry.
He also said apart from stalling the hope of reclaiming her position as a global powerhouse in cocoa production and export, the fund’s failure to get off the ground was frustrating efforts at riding on the crest of a vibrant cocoa industry to create jobs.
Sometime in October 2014, the Federal Government through the former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, now President, African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. AkinwunmiAdesina, launched a N100 billion Cocoa Sector Development Fund. He also announced the government’s resolve to establish the Cocoa Development Corporation of Nigeria.
The minister stated that the fund was aimed at supporting cocoa farmers by expanding cocoa plantation across the country; supporting the cocoa corporation of Nigeria and cocoa drying and access to micro finance for cocoa production.
He also said the Cocoa Corporation of Nigeria, which would be private sector driven and public sector financed, would position Nigeria among more robust global economies and improve quality of lives of cocoa processors. “The corporation will be independent to grow and win back at least 20 per cent of the global cocoa market by 2020,” he said.
However, more than two years down the line, Adhuze lamented that both the fund and the corporation remained mere proposals on paper. “Government is not serious,” he said,, noting that this was also why despite exporting cocoa for over 100 years, Nigeria has no defined cocoa policy to identify the basic links in the cocoa value chain.
The expert noted that there was need for a policy on cocoa farming with appropriate institutional framework to boost its production through proper identification of all the actors who have stake in the industry, from farmers to processors, marketers and exporters among others.
Source : ThenationonlineThenationonline