Cocoa farmers in Edo State have lamented that lack of support from the state and federal governments is hindering cocoa production in the state.
The state chairman of the association, Thomas Ekpenriebe, stated this in Benin while speaking with journalists on the prospect of cocoa farming in the state.
He said the farmers had not gotten any support from either the state government or the Federal Government, in term of inputs and funding, saying the development is really affecting cocoa production in the state.
“As it is now in Edo State, we go to Ibadan and Ondo states to get the new hybrid of cocoa because the cocoa seed garden in the state is not functioning, and nobody is managing it. Also, there is no extension service for cocoa farmers in the state.
In the 1960s, cocoa was the cash crop used to develop the country. Today, there’s nothing coming from the state or Federal Government. We are just working on our own and it is affecting cocoa production in the state and the country in general,’’ he said.
The farmers solicited the support of the Edo State Government to invest in cocoa farming by reawakening extension service, re-established cocoa seed garden to avoid travelling to other states for seedlings and also generate more revenue for the state.
The chairman also lamented the activities of middlemen in cocoa business in the state, which he said was affecting profits accrued to cocoa.
While calling for the re-establishment of a cocoa board across the country, he said, “The board would serve as a regulatory body that would help cocoa farmers to identify licensed buyers and control the price of the commodities.’’
He explained that currently, Edo State has the best quality cocoa due to the concerted efforts by relevant stakeholders.
Ekpenriebe also identified unfavourable climate, outbreak of fire, COVID-19, absence of a regulatory body as major hindrances to the sector.