The National President of the Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN), Adeola Adegoke, has said that the present autopilot system in the cocoa sector must be stopped to make the nation’s cocoa competitive. He also said the autopilot system must be stopped to spur investment that has continued to elude the farmers as a result of a free market without regulation that aided fraud, cheating, waste, low productivity and production, no plan, circumvention, poor quality, compromising of standardisation and low livelihood of cocoa farmers.
Adegoke, while reacting to President Bola Tinubu’s declaration on National Commodity Board, noted that Mr. President had never hidden his views on the need to bring back the boards to support his food sufficiency strategies. “It must be known that the present total deregulation of the cocoa sector, after the dissolution of the commodity board in 1986, has set the industry backward without any appreciable progress in quality, production, productivity, and the fair market mechanism to support the farmers. “The smallholder cocoa farmers have continued to bear the full cost of cocoa production without any appreciable support from the government at all levels unlike what was obtainable during the cocoa board era in 1986 and being done in Ghana and Ivory Coast.
“That still retained their boards and presently with production capacity of 1 million MT and 2 million MT, respectively while Nigeria is presently hovering around 300,000 and 350,000 MT. However, we will not support the purchasing power to be given to the board again, apart from buyers of the last resort, and play a major role in the regulation and development of the sector due to the bad experience suffered by the Nigerian farmers when they were cheated by the then board via price manipulation that led to the dissolution that is, throwing away the baby with the bath water.