By Nsan Ndoma-Neji, Calabar

The leadership of the Cross River State chapter of the Cocoa Association of Nigeria, CAN, has urged government at all levels to set up a task-force that will put a check on the importation of fake and sub-standards pesticides into the country.

It also advocated for government’s action to possibly prevent cocoa producers from gaining access to fake and sub-standard pesticides, which CAN leadership said that are inimical to and also have negative impacts on the quality of cocoa production.

Subsequent upon this call, CAN also urged the Standard Organization of Nigeria, SON, not to hesitate to ban all pesticides known to be sub-standards and fake, which imported from other cocoa producing countries.

The Cross River State chairman of CAN, Comrade Ejor Bissong, made the advocacy yesterday while answering questions from journalists on the need for the enforcement of stiff penalties to ensure the sustainance of good quality cocoa beans that will create great impact on the economy of the nation at the international cocoa market.

Comrade Bissong averred that if cocoa beans produced by farmers in the country were of better grade, there is the likelihood for the price per tonne to astronomically increase at the international market, stressing that good quality beans is the only way forward to attract influx of merchant coming into the country to search for cocoa cash crops.

He further added that with quality cocoa product, the price per a tonne is likely to go haywire.

Speaking earlier on the topic “Deforestation and it’s Effects on Cocoa; Use of Inappropriate Pesticides,” the CAN chairman warned that unless something is urgently done by government at all levels to salvage the situation, the quality of the product risk the chance of getting dwindled.

He said, “CAN members should get copies of approved standards made available by SON. Right methods of application of pesticides like the European Union, EU, standard or even the Japanese standard should be adopted.

“Accredited laboratories are available for determining the true quality of cocoa. Policy makers must be encouraged to come up with legislations that are friendly to our case.

“The quality of our produce determines our national image, as cocoa is sold on basis of origin – like Ghanian cocoa, Nigerian cocoa, Indonesia n cocoa and several others.”

In a communique signed by the CAN chairman, Comrade Bissong, it’s secretary, Mr. Shittu Olawale, and CAN Vice President, Cross River/Akwa Ibom zone, Mr. Godwin Okwu and two other stakeholders, and made available to our correspondent in Calabar yesterday, the association called on cocoa farmers to desist forthwith from cutting down tress that ought to provide canopies in the farm.

The communique recommended for an integrated system to control pest requiring biological control measure, which is key, rather than relying on pesticides always.

Stressing that with the canopies, the cocoa trees would have a long life span as compared to farms that are highly exposed to intensive sunlight.

The communique added, “Without the shade trees, the cocoa tree is useless. Our forests must be preserved. Deliberate afforestation is imperative.”

The communique maintained that if cocoa beans produced by farmers in the country were of better grade, the price of the product per tonne is likely to astronomically increase at the international market, stressing that good quality beans remains a major determinant of good price.

The communique also call on “CAN members to get copies of approved standards made available by SON,” adding, “Right methods of application of pesticides like the European Union, EU, standard or even the Japanese standard should be adopted.

“Accredited laboratories are available for determining the true quality of cocoa. Policy makers must be encouraged to come up with legislations that are friendly to our case.”

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