The Federal Government has taken steps to enhance living income differential of cocoa farmers by inaugurating the National Cocoa Management Committee (NCMC). While inaugurating the committee in Abuja, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar stated that the effort would boost living income differential (LID) for cocoa smallholder farmers, guarantee quality, traceability, transparency and sustainability for cocoa value chain as well as meet export demands, added that the initiative would make Nigerian cocoa farmers to start benefiting from the project like their counterparts in Ghana and Cote d’Ivorie. Dr. Abubakar charged the committee to come up with an urgent draft charter for the operations of NCMC, which would enable an executive bill to be forwarded to the National Assembly for legal backing so as to meet the demand of joining the Ghana/Cote d’Ivoire initiative to deliver LID at $400/ ton, which would in turn, improve the livelihood of small holder cocoa farmers in the country.
He stated that the role of the ministry was to provide the enabling environment to ensure that the committee performed its role effectively and achieve mandate. The minister revealed that members of the committee were drawn from relevant stakeholders in the public and private sectors in line with global best practices. The ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe pointed out that the ‘‘Emergence of this noble committee was the outcome of the interactive meeting between the Nigerian Cocoa delegation and Ghanaian Cocoa Board held in Accra, Ghana”. Dr. Umakhihe re-stated the commitment of his ministry towards making hybrid seeds available to farmers, timely provision of pesticides and other critical cocoa farm inputs, linking the farmers to financial institutions for financial support at affordable rates and support processors in order to add value to the farm produce.
Responding on behalf of the committee, the Chairman, Engr. Garuba Abubakar assured that the committee would work assiduously towards achieving its mandate and increase the quality of cocoa production, and meet export demands. The term of reference of the committee includes developing a framework for the regulation and monitoring of the activities of the cocoa sector to make the industry more transparent, developing a strategic plan towards the establishment of a Nigerian cocoa board, serving as a regulatory body in the Nigerian cocoa sector, upscaling their activities to all cocoa-producing states, organising and conducting a national conference for commissioners of agriculture from the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to sensitise them on the importance of LID and efforts of the Federal Government toward ensuring that small holder cocoa farmers also enjoy the benefits like Ghana and Cote d‘Ivoire, among other countries. The newly-inaugurated committee has the Director, Federal Department of Agriculture, Engr. Abduallahi Abubakar as Chairman and Dr. Patrick Adebola as Secretary.