Cocoa farmers in Nigerian have petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari over the alleged distribution of fake farm inputs by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.
The farmers alleged that the products that were distributed to cocoa farmers in the cocoa growing parts of the country adversely affected the growth and development of the crop when it was applied.
The letter dated November 27 and addressed to the president, was signed by members of the executive of the Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria, CFAN, including the National President, Raimi Adeniji; Secretary, Adeola Adegoke; National Vice President, South West, Ayodele Joseph; Financial Secretary, Ufono Sunday; and Public Relations Officer, Yerima Mustapha.
A copy of the letter which was obtained by PREMIUM TIMES on Monday, noted that the farmers were not consulted on the quality and necessary inputs required to meet their needs before the chemicals were procured.
“We want to draw the attention of Mr. President, Muhammad Buhari to the ugly economic sabotage perpetuated within the Ministry of Agriculture whereby fake and unwanted inputs were procured for cocoa farmers,” the letter read.
“In fact, the procured inputs, particularly fungicides, had destroyed our cocoa trees and farms.
“Sir, we have appealed to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture that farmers should be consulted whenever critical issues relating to the procurement of inputs in order to know our demands for the year.
“We want Mr. President to realise that most of the inputs procured in the past like jute bags, solo sprayer pumps, fungicide and insecticides were rejected by the cocoa farmers as a result of its low standard while those farmers that used part of it regretted their action because of the negative impact on their cocoa farms.
“Mr. President sir, it is sad to note that cocoa economy that use to feed the nation during the time of the western region has been relegated to the background due to the unpatriotic actions of those people saddled with the responsibility of promoting cocoa production at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture which is affecting the growth of the sector seriously.
CFAN further said it had written a letter to the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, to raise the same issues while the President was on medical vacation in the UK and the letter was promptly referred to the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, but no action was taken.
The group claimed it had also written several letters to Mr. Ogbeh, but did not get any response.
“On this above experience and explanations, we will therefore appeal to Mr. President to use his power to stop the ongoing procurement exercise on cocoa at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture with immediate effect until consultations are made with us as representatives of the peasant cocoa farmers in Nigeria,” the association demanded.
It said if the procurement of the inputs was not halted, the farmers would be forced to embark on an open demonstration in protest against the action by the Ministry of Agriculture at the various cocoa producing states of the country.
“We strongly appeal to Mr. President to move into the matter urgently to save cocoa farmers from untimely deaths due to the havoc caused by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture,” it added.
The group, however, lauded the president for his commitment to the development of agriculture in the Nigeria, especially, cocoa, which was one of his campaign promises. It urged him to save the economy and the future of Nigeria.
Responding to PREMIUM TIMES’ enquiries on the matter, the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, regretted the development, saying the ministry would immediately do a review of the situation and discuss with the stakeholders.
Mr. Ogbeh, who responded via a text message, stated that the ministry could not have deliberately supplied fake inputs to farmers.
”I am shocked to learn of this unfortunate development,” he said.
“The ministry will immediately meet with those affected, take samples of the fungicides and investigate the source of supply, find the supplier and compel him or her to account for the damage.
“The ministry would not deliberately issue chemicals to destroy farmers’ crops. To what purpose would we do that?
“We appeal to the farmers to exercise patience and let us conclude investigations before taking appropriate measures to rectify any damage caused.”