The loss of marketing boards
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CTA. 2002. The loss of marketing boards. Rural Radio Resource Pack 02/5. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57365
An agricultural economist from the Nigerian Ministry of Agriculture describes the impact of the abolishment of the Cocoa Marketing Board, and recommends that the board should be reinstated and other supports given in order to restore cocoa production and encourage young people to enter the business.
The loss of marketing boards Cue: The scrapping of commodity marketing boards, that once supplied farming inputs and bought farmers produce at fixed prices, has been a common aspect of economic liberalisation in the developing world. Governments have, in effect, been forced to take a hands-off approach to agriculture. Sadly, in many areas this has led to a decline in farming profits, and the migration of young people to urban areas. Many end up doing menial jobs that do little to boost either the national economy or their own family?s income. Reversing this trend is far from easy, and some economists suggest that without external support, rural communities will continue to struggle. The speaker in our next report certainly agrees with this view. Victor Okorua is an agricultural economist at the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Agriculture. Over the years he has monitored how the abolishing of commodity marketing boards has affected farmers. Tunde Fatunde asked him to explain how farmers have been affected by the loss of just one, Nigeria?s Cocoa Marketing Board. IN: ?In the western part of Nigeria ? OUT: ?agriculture is no more drudgery.? DUR?N 3?26? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Victor Okorua suggesting the kinds of support Nigeria?s agriculture will need if it is to thrive under a new generation of young farmers. Transcript Fatunde In the western part of Nigeria, cocoa is the most important commodity. Now with the scrapping of the Cocoa Commodity Board for quite some time, what effect has this had on farmers? Okorua First there is the issue of the price, which farmers used to enjoy; a steady price which brought about a steady income. Now with the scrapping of the board, this is no longer in place, and so farmers? income is affected. Fatunde Has this led to an increase in the purchasing power of the farmers? Okorua When the boards were scrapped, initially there was a boom in the market, because the multi-nationals came in, agencies came in, middlemen came in, and farmers had the price the world market was operating with, and so returns were higher. But over time there has been a problem. We have had a glut as a result of the adulteration of the produce, and then the world market not importing our produce as expected, and this has led to glut. And so the returns to farmers have begun to dwindle, and this has made farmers begin to leave their plantations for other alternatives. Fatunde What kind of alternatives? Okorua Well with the older ones, they found an alternative by going back to arable cropping, to make sure that the family is sustained. Others engaged in artisanal jobs. Then the younger ones migrated to the urban centres. They took up jobs like gardening, like security agencies, and other kind of jobs which are menial in nature. Fatunde Which means that there?s a problem. The older farmers are still interested in cocoa production, and the younger ones are not. How is it possible to make sure that the younger ones go back to the land, to continue with cocoa production? Okorua Here let me say, there?s a need for these boards to come back, that is the commodity boards. And there is a need for the government to subsidise agriculture. There is a need to encourage cottage industry, because we need to diversify beyond just producing the raw material. We need to add value. We have to change the cocoa seed to either powder, butter, wine and things like that, that will have an alternative market. I think with this, many younger ones will be encouraged. Besides there is the issue of infrastructure. Government must put in place roads. They must put in place electricity. They must put in place water, and there must be markets. It is only at this that the younger ones will be encouraged to go back to the rural areas, take up the so-called plantations, and begin to help their older ones. Besides there must be the issue of credit. Credit must be supplied to them, so that they can be able to buy some of the chemicals and the rest that they need. Again, there must be an improvement in technology; technology in the sense that, we no longer have to depend on hoes and cutlasses. There must be improved ways of making sure that agriculture is no more drudgery. End of track.