Abuja - The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has kicked against the campaign by a faction of Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN) that agrochemicals listed for cocoa production are harmful.
Dr Ezekiel Oyemomi, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, while briefing newsmen on Thursday in Abuja, said that the agrochemicals had been screened and registered by the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that some media reports had quoted the faction as saying that Federal Government should investigate the purchase and supply of agrochemicals to cocoa farmers.
The permanent secretary argued that the agrochemicals listed on the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme for cocoa production were not unpopular and dangerous.
According to him, the agrochemicals are registered by the CRIN, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and approved by the European Union (EU).
He said that the ministry had in 2008 set up a Ministerial Committee on pesticide usage on cocoa and the provision of the right agrochemicals to cocoa farmers to ensure compliance with EU standard.
Accordingly, the ministry compiled with the recommendations of the committee and provided guidelines on approved agrochemicals for use on cocoa tress by cocoa farmers based on the EU safety standards.
Oyemomi said that this was to ensure that Nigerian cocoa was not banned by the EU importers.
He observed that the ministry had carried CFAN along in the decision to roll out the agrochemicals in the GES.
He added that the cocoa value chain team had also been sensitising stakeholders in the cocoa industry on its activities.
Oyemomi appealed to the faction to be patient with the ministry, as plans were underway to include some agrochemicals the faction had identified in the second phase of the GES.
"The ministry had decided that this year being the first year of implementing the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA), only tested, agrochemicals that farmers are familiar with will be used for the scheme."
In his remarks, Prof. Malachy Akoroda, the Chief Executive Officer of CRIN, stressed that cocoa agrochemicals were always tested scientifically on cocoa trees before recommending it to farmers.
He said that cocoa farmers had clamoured for the agrochemicals soon after it was rolled out in Ibadan in April.
Akorada said that the agrochemicals were listed as the best for cocoa production in Europe and America.
Mr Sayina Riman, the President of CFAN, commended the Federal Government for including the association in the Cocoa Transformation Agenda (CTA).
``The private sector has never had it this good before. This is the first time that we are comfortable with a Public-Private-Partnership arrangement, ’’ Riman said.
Earlier, Mr Peter Akpokpodion, the team leader of the cocoa value chain, said that the agrochemicals had gone through various stages before the ministry recommended it for use.
He urged the faction to embrace the agrochemicals and stop the campaign of calumny.