Adamawa farm­ers aban­don co­coa

Daily Trust - - GOLDEN HARVEST - From Kabiru R. An­war, Yola

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

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