Cocoa, Plantain Farmers Bemoan Exclusion from Govt Programmes, Present Four-Point Demands

Farmers under the auspices of the Cocoa and Plantain Farmers Association of Nigeria have decried their exclusion from the Federal Government’s intervention projects and programmes.

The group made the displeasure known on Tuesday during their visit to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono.

The farmers, led by the Coordinator and National President of the association, Mr Ayodele Ojo, further decried their exclusion from recent intervention programmes of the Federal Government such as the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Covid-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (CARES) Programme of the World Bank.

Ojo noted, “It is very surprising that other commodities like maize, rice, cassava, cotton, vegetable, cocoa etc. received support under the Anchor Borrower’s Programme while the plantain commodity was excluded. It has also come to our notice that the CARES Project that is in the pipeline also excludes plantain and cocoa commodities.

“Plantain can serve dual purposes as food and cash crops and can give early returns on investment in one year just like cassava.”

Speaking on the potential benefits of plantain farming, Ayodele observed that more than half of the 36 states in Nigeria produces plantain which is one of the highly-demanded crops from developed nations of the world.

“The plantain value chain, if well harnessed, is capable of alleviating unemployment challenges in Nigeria significantly. Plantain has always contributed and is still contributing to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Nigeria,” he added.

Ayodele on behalf of the group also presented a four-point action demand to the Minister.

The association required that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development should recognize the Cocoa and Plantain Farmers Association of Nigeria as a national body.

Ojo also asked that the Ministry ensure the inclusion of the association in the ABP, the CARES Project and other ongoing palliative programmes.

The farmers added that the Ministry renders capacity-building support to plantain farmers so that they can meet international market standards in terms of post-harvest handling and packaging of plantain.

They also requested that the Ministry ensure that the association is not left out of all future interventions.

In his response, Nanono confirmed the recognition of the association as a national body and promised to facilitate a partnership between the association and the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) for financial empowerment.

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