Adamawa farmers abandon cocoa
Many cocoa farmers in Adamawa State have stopped cultivating the crop due to alleged lack of support from the state government, Daily Trust findings have shown.
Since the introduction of cocoa farming in the state more than a decade ago, the farmers say they had struggled to overcome lack of capital, agricultural inputs as well as access to the market.
Experts say the fertile land and favourable weather in Toungo, southern Adamawa State supports production of cocoa, kolanuts, cassava and palm oil.
Our investigations revealed that only two people now remain active in cocoa farming in Toungo which is the centre of cocoa farming in the state.Some of the farmers blamed the state government for neglecting them.
Aliyu Toungo told our reporter that farmers lack access to irrigation water as well as other inputs like fertilizer and pesticides.
Aliyu who owns two cocoa farms, said farmers found it difficult to invest for four to five consecutive years, stressing the need for government assistance.
According to him, cocoa production in the area started in 2001 when the state government mobilised farmers to invest in the crop with the promise of technical and financial assistance.
“In 2001 when I was the chairman of Toungo LGA, former vice president, Atiku Abubakar and former governor, Boni Haruna, mobilised farmers to plant cocoa in view of the favourable weather in Toungo and Ganye. The federal government then supplied the seeds through the state government. The government asked everybody to plant the crop. I started with 2000 stands,” he said.
He added that when farmers realised that the business was capital intensive, they complained to the government, seeking support and the state government promised to provide all the needed assistance but nothing had come in the past 13 years.
He decried low revenue from the crop due to lack of access to markets, saying government needs to intervene at every stage of commercial production.
He threatened to quit cocoa farming himself unless the state government plays a role.
“They once told us that some machines provided for us were kept in Abia State and asked us to pay N10,000 transport fee to get them here,” he said.
”Toungo is the centre of cocoa production but I can tell you that only three producers are still active including the state government irrigation farm. All other farmers have removed the trees and replaced them with maize, rice and other food crops that are easy to produce,” he added.
Musa Ahmad said he opted out of cocoa production early because of lack of capital.
He said he had awaited government assistance but realised it was not forthcoming, so he decided to quit the business.
“Government promised us fertilizer and pesticides, so I started cocoa farming with the hope that I would succeed but flood washed away my farmland. That was the end of my cocoa farming. I can return only if I get assistance from governmen,” said another farmer, Hammaunde Hairu.
As one of the pioneers, Hairu, who started with 200 stands, could not hide his passion for cocoa farming as he called on the present administration in the state to make cocoa production a priority.
Aliyu Toungo in his cocoa farms in Toungo, Adamawa