The Federal Government on Tuesday inaugurated the National Cocoa Management Committee (NCMC), to tackle some of the challenges being encountered in the Cocoa Sector.
Speaking at the inauguration of the 11-man Committee on National Cocoa Management, in Abuja, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, said the essence of the Committee was to develop strategies to solve these challenges to move the Cocoa industry forward.
” Some of the challenges being encountered in the Cocoa Sector include Pest and diseases, logistics such as rural roads and infrastructure.
” Also, old Cocoa plantations, ageing of our Cocoa farmers, processing, access to finance, environmental concerns such as deforestation, climate change and absence of a National Coordinating body,” he said.
The minister said the event was the culmination of enormous collective efforts including a recent visit by the officials of the Ministry to Ghana to study the implementation of Living Income Differential (LID).
” Ghana and Cote d’ Ivoire introduced the Living Income Differential (LID) as a premium on their cocoa and as tool to complement their prices of cocoa in international market.
“The purpose of this is to increase the share benefits received by cocoa farmers in these Countries.
” In order to work out modalities for Nigerian cocoa farmers to start benefitting from this initiative like their counterparts in Ghana and Cote d’ Ivoire.
” The committee has the following Terms of Reference: The NCMC shall develop a framework for the regulation and monitoring of the activities of the Cocoa sector to make the industry more transparent.
” The NCMC shall develop a strategic plan towards the establishment of a Nigerian Cocoa Board.
” The NCMC, as an important regulatory body in the Nigerian Cocoa sector shall upscale their activities to all cocoa producing states.
” The NCMC shall organise and conduct a national conference (of) for Commissioners of Agriculture from 36 states and FCT to sensitise them on the importance of LID and efforts of the Federal Government towards ensuring that our small holder cocoa farmers also enjoy the benefit like Ghana and Cote ‘Ivoire.
” The NCMC shall develop Local, State and Federal Government strategic implementation plan of the National Cocoa Management Committee.
” The NCMC shall develop a Nigerian charter towards joining the Ghana/Cote d’Ivoire initiative.
” The NCMC shall establish data bank for all Multinational Companies and Exporters of Cocoa Beans from Nigerian Ports.
“One of your immediate tasks is to come up with an urgent draft charter for the operations of NCMC which will enable an Executive Bill to be forwarded to the National Assembly for legal backing.
” So as to meet the demand of joining the Ghana/Cote d’Ivoire initiative to deliver Living Income Differential (LID) of $400/ tonne, which will in turn improve the livelihood of our small holder Cocoa farmers in the Country,” he said.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development,Dr Ernest Umakhihe, expressed delight to be part of the inauguration of the committee.
” This is in line with the present Administration’s policy on diversification of the Nigerian Economy from the oil to the non-oil Sector of which Agriculture is playing a major role,” he said.
Umakhihe said the ministry is looking forward to robust and practicable recommendations, which if implemented would not only increase the productivity of the Cocoa farmers but would also enhance the quality and value addition to the Nigerian Cocoa Sector.
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