From Victor Akinkuolie, Ondo
An Ondo East-based farmer and cocoa merchant, Mr. Adeleye Isaac, has commended the Ondo State Government for attracting more investors to the state, saying the move would further tackle the problem of unemployment among the youths in the state.
Isaac, a former Supervisor for Special Duties in Ondo East Local Government Area of the state dropped the hint recently in Oboto community while speaking with our correspondent. He stressed the need for the government to establish an anti-smuggling squad to oversee the conduct of cocoa business operations in the state.
He explained that the development will not only checkmate the activities of those he called unscrupulous persons who may want to indulge in the adulteration of the product, but improve and sustain the quality of Cocoa produce in the state.
Isaac, who described cocoa as one of the most important non-oil foreign exchange earners for Nigeria, however lamented what he observed as the dwindling fortune of the product in recent time in spite of an increase in its price in the world market.
He attributed the problem to what he described as the poor quality of the product supplied to buyers in the international market by some unscrupulous suppliers, adding that the development has led to a fall in the price of the commodity.
His words: “Before now Nigerian cocoa was selling at a premium in the international market to the extent that it was reserved as buffer for the ones from other cocoa producing countries. However, it is unfortunate to note that Nigerian Cocoa is now selling at a discount to the disadvantages of exporting merchants and firms.”
On how to address the anomaly, the Cocoa buyer tasked all stakeholders such as the farmers, produce buyers, merchants, exporters and processors of the product and produce examiners to partner with the state government in the enforcement of quality and standard as well as surveillance activities in order to check the menace of those he described as unscrupulous merchants whose activities appears to be at variance with the rules and regulations of the state in its effort at restoring the lost glory of the product in the state.
Isaac highlighted the roles expected to be played by all stakeholders in ensuring compliance with laid down rules and regulations as stipulated by the state government, adding that any relevant government authorities that would be set up by the state government should be charged with the duties of ensuring good quality of the product.
He also suggested that the body should also not hesitate to prosecute anybody found contravening any of the provision of the Produce and Allied Matters law 2006 promulgated in the state.
He lamented that the problem associated with poor quality of cocoa is fast becoming one of the greatest challenges facing the sales of the commodity in the international market.
He commended the Ondo state government for what he described as the positive steps being taken towards boosting the quality of the product in the state through the grading process.