Cocoa Stakeholders Call For Govt Involvement In Projects

cocoa-woman-CopySTAKEHOLDERS in the Nigeria cocoa value chain have called on government at different levels to be involved in the initiation, implementation and monitoring of intervention projects and aid packages in the industry.

According to them, this would help to effectively monitor both the content and spread of such projects, especially those undertaken in the private sector.
These views were expressed at the 2015 Annual Stakeholders Conference of the Farmers Development Union (FADU) to access the impact of the Kokodola Project supported by industry players and Non-Governmental Organisations.

According to participants, the life cycle and impact of intervention projects would be better served within a structured system under the scrutiny and supervision of government. This, they say, would
guarantee that neither of the partners becomes shortchanged at the end of the day.
Guest speaker and Professor of Agricultural Production Economics, Adegboyega Oguntade, lamented the lack of understanding by stakeholders of the use of intervention projects in any environment.

In a paper titled, “Development Projects: Ends Within an Unending Cycles”, Prof. Oguntade noted that since 2001 various intervention projects have been initiated and implemented in the cocoa value chain, with one project arising from the ashes of another.

According to him, this has had little impact in the psyche of beneficiaries who believe that the projects should replace the individual and group efforts to improve the work and livelihood of their members.

Oguntade challenged cocoa cooperatives to institute strong administrative protocols for greater efficiency. He also condemned the notion that four years is too short for projects to have lasting impact. He reasoned, “If the donor borrows money from the bank at the current interest rates the impact
should come from the first year.”

He therefore called on farmers to embrace the culture of savings in their cooperatives. Equally, he noted, “Farms should be delineated and lands should be used as collateral for loans.”

FADU Project Coordinator, Victor Olowe, lamented the lack of proper synergy between FADU and some of the partners due to differences in their core objectives for the project.
He noted that while FADU believed in the need to empower farmers socially and economically, the off-taker was keener about profit.
Olowe said this became the partner’s focus after the initial partner pulled out due to its buy-out.

This attitude, he said, has affected the orientation and performance of the farmers very negatively.
According to him, it has become necessary to re-evaluate the partnerships to protect the overall interest of the farmers and integrity of the country, hence the need to go back to the drawing board. Olowe added that the next few months are critical to the survival of the Kokodola Project, which has trained over 7000 cocoa farmers in Osun and Ondo States.

The project also employs over 50 field staff, who undertake training of farmers, monitoring and evaluation, certification and audit control, among other roles.
University don and former Team Leader of the Cocoa Transformation Agenda, Dr. Peter Aikpokpodion, observed that stakeholders and government should look at agricultural sector as an entity and re-engineer it.

The renowned plant breeder who pioneered the latest hybrid cocoa pods noted that for Nigeria to get the result we need, we should support the setting up of coordinating body that will take care of all
challenges in the industry.

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