Cocoa Good Source of Wealth for Nigeria, Says Farmers

Bennett Oghifo

Cocoa is a good source of national wealth apart from oil farmers of the crop have said. 

They stated that unlike petroleum, the price of cocoa remains stable at the international market.

The farmers stated this at a two-day awareness campaign to eliminate child-labour practices and their negative impact on cocoa farmers in Idanre and Ifedore local government areas of Ondo State.

They, therefore, called on the government at all levels to include cocoa in the plan to diversify the nation’s economy from being solely petroleum-based.

The awareness campaign, a Child Labour Education and Resilience (CLEAR) project, was organised by the Lutheran World Relief and funded by Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in partnership with the Ondo State Government, Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN), Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment and International Labour Organisation (ILO).

According to the President of CFAN, Adeola Adegoke, cocoa production is now an alternative to oil with the current economic hardship Nigerians are facing.

Adegoke said; “the problem we are having today is because we are moving from production to consumption. Our cocoa is the prospect that can guarantee our push from consumption to production in Nigeria. Cocoa still remains what can actually be the backbone of our economy with what we are seeing now in this country.

“For example now, Idanre happens to be the singular local government area that produces the highest cocoa in Nigeria and it shows the potential for our teeming youths to go to sustainable cocoa production in this country.”

The Chief of Party, Lutheran World Relief, Nene Akwetey-Kodjoe said, “We need to eradicate the use of children for labour, what we are saying is that hard-labour is not allowed, we need to do it right.”

Akwetey-Kodjoe, who was represented by Foluso Wilson, the Human Resources Manager, Lutheran World Relief, said, “We want those children out-there to go back to school because education is a general knowledge that will grow our brain.”

The Programme Technical Advisor, Lutheran World Relief, Siji Ofoesuwa said the goal of the CLEAR project was to significantly reduce the prevalence of child labour practices among cocoa farmers in the state.

Deputy Director, Guidance and Counseling unit of the Ondo State Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Olayemi Fakehin, said government has put in place a comprehensive plan to eliminate child labour in the state.

According to her, the comprehensive plans include; strengthening the existing laws and policies towards providing a greater protection for children and harsher penalties for those who exploit them for labour.

The first Onibuji of Ibuji in Ifedore Local Government of Ondo State, Folagbade Ojo, who also spoke on the CLEAR project thanked the organizers of the awareness campaign saying “my people are mostly farmers, we have no other occupation. We produce palm oil, cocoa, kolanut, oranges and any type of fruitful crops.”