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Reasons more farmers are embracing cocoa farming in Taraba

More farmers are taking up cocoa farming in Kurmi and other LGAs of Taraba State as a result of the high demand and good prices…

More farmers are taking up cocoa farming in Kurmi and other LGAs of Taraba State as a result of the high demand and good prices they are getting.

Findings revealed that cocoa farming has been going on for several years in the past but with only a few farmers engaged in it.

Daily Trust, however, gathered that recently, there has been high demand for cocoa and several middlemen from the southwest have to Kurmi to buy the produce directly from the farmers in large quantities.

Findings revealed that the residents have no idea how the produce is sold at the international markets and therefore outsiders take advantage of this to monopolize the cocoa trade in the state.

However, because of the good prices the farmers are getting, more people are venturing into cocoa farming in Kurmi, Donga and Takum LGAs. 

Abong, Eneme, Batu, Baissa, Bissaula, Asha, Attach Yaboro and Mbissa are the main areas where cocoa is produced in commercial quantities in Kurmi LGA, while there are few areas in Donga, Ussa and Takum where cocoa is also produced but by small holding farmers.

It was further gathered that middlemen in their numbers from the South West and South East of the country are making huge profits from the cocoa business.

Adamu Kurmi told Daily Trust that he started cocoa farming five years ago and has made a lot of money from it.

He said however that there are some challenges in cocoa farming, especially land clearing, planting and treatment of cocoa trees as well as time to start harvesting.

He said the improved variety of cocoa seeds take a period of 18 months to start bearing fruit, adding that the size of harvest depends on the size of the farm and its fertility.

Another farmer, Bulus James, said cocoa farming is a long-time investment but once the cocoa tree starts bearing fruits the farmer starts getting returns.

He said many of the farmers do not know the price of cocoa in Lagos but they are getting between N200,000 to N250,000 per 100kg bag of cocoa beans.

He said cocoa produced in Taraba State is labelled as cocoa produced in the South West by the middlemen and that they also exported the Taraba cocoa outside the country as produce from other states 

Yusuf Sanda, another cocoa farmer in Kurmi LGA said the state has the potential to be a major cocoa producer if the farmers get encouragement from the government.

He said he started cocoa farming four years ago and has seen the benefits of it.

“Farmers in Taraba State stand to gain much from cocoa farming because of its good price and demand in the international market.

“Though we the farmers here only produce and sell to middlemen coming from outside the state, we don’t really know the market value locally and internationally of cocoa because outsiders monopolise the market here in Taraba,” he said.

Yusuf said despite the challenges farmers face in cocoa farming, its good price has encouraged many to take it up in the local government area.

He listed some of the challenges of cocoa farming in Kurmi to include poor processing and presentation, low prices of the produce as a result of the monopoly by business people from outside the state, as well as the black pod diseases and bush fires which destroy cocoa farms and huge losses to farmers.

Yusuf Sanda also said inadequate and expensive pesticides increase  production costs for the farmers 

“Lack of extension services on best practices, low penetration of improved cocoa seedlings to farmers and lack of grading facilities to improve pricing are also major challenges facing farmers,” he said.

Yusuf said there is good vegetation and climate suitable for cocoa production in seven out of the 16 local government areas of the state.

He said the state can compete with any state in cocoa production if the required attention is given to cocoa farming by both the federal and Taraba governments.

Sale Pavali, the Permanent Secretary, of the Taraba State Ministry of Agriculture, told Daily Trust that seven local government areas of the state have the potential to produce cocoa in commercial quantities.

He listed the areas as Kurmi LGA which currently produces much of the cocoa in the state; Takum, Ussa, Donga, Gashaka, Sardauna and Dakka in Bali LGA.

According to him, the current cocoa production level in the state per annum is 20,000 metric tons while the highest cocoa-producing state produces 100,000 metric tons per annum.

Sale said the seven local government areas in the state can produce over 100,000 metric tons if needed attention is given to cocoa farming in the state. 

“Taraba is currently graded as a mini cocoa producing state and the government is doing its best, especially with the current policy focus on agriculture, with incentives built in the budget to assist farmers to increase their productivity. Cocoa farming will witness a boom very soon in Taraba,” he said.

According to him, cocoa from Taraba is one of the best in terms of quantity and has good price which is why the produce is labelled as produce from other states by the middlemen.

“The government is aware that middlemen after buying cocoa from Taraba label it as a product from other states and that is why it is setting up a cocoa grading centre at Abong and Takum and facilities for grading our cocoa will soon be provided by the government to enable farmers to have value for their produce,” he said.

The perm-sec., also encouraged cocoa farmers in the state to form cooperative societies so as to get incentives from the federal and state governments as well as from non-governmental organisations to boost their capacity.

Daily Trust findings revealed that in identifying the potential of Taraba State for cocoa production, the National Cocoa Research Centre has established a cocoa research station at Mayo Selbe in Gashaka LGA, located at the border between Gashaka and Sardauna LGAs.

The station has cocoa farms along the Serti-Gembu road with cocoa trees bearing fruits as it could be seen by those plying the road.

 

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