Akure — Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN), has accused the Federal Ministry of Agriculture of procuring substandard agricultural inputs for the farmers, thereby causing great havoc for the agric produce.
In a statement jointly signed by its National President, National Secretary, National Vice President (South-West), and Public Relations Officer, Raimi Adeniji, Adeola Adegoke, Ayodele Joseph, and Yerima Mustapha, they alleged that the government's intervention had caused a lot of havoc.
According to them, some of the inputs allegedly procured by the Ministry included: fungicide, insecticides, and cutlasses, saying: "The procured inputs particularly fungicide had destroyed our cocoa trees and farms.
"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 results of its low standard."
They disclosed that farmers, who used some of the materials given to them as interventions, regretted their actions afterwards because of the negative impact on their cocoa farms.
The association attributed the disaster to the refusal of the Ministry of Agriculture to heed to their appeal, to always consult farmers whenever making critical issues relating to the procurement of inputs and other demands for the year.
Adeniji said the association had written series of letters to the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbe, to inform him of the expediency of the matter, but never got any response from him.
CFAN, which threatened to stage protests across Nigeria if the government ignored their demands, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to stop the procurement and involve cocoa farmers in the planning and other tasks that affect them.
The statement read in part: "We strongly appealed to Mr. President to move into the matter urgently to save cocoa farmers from untimely death due to the havoc caused by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture."
However, some of the ministry officials contacted by our correspondent refused to speak on the allegations, saying they were not authorised to make a comment, as only the headquarters in Abuja can do so.