Cross River State Government has lost over N130 million returns in 2016 due to allocation of Cocoa farms to ghost farmers.
The Special Adviser to the State Governor Ben Ayade, on Cocoa Development, Oscar Ofuka disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria.
According to Ofuka “the Governor has directed me to review the allocations with a view to ensuring that the right farmers are given Cocoa farmlands. “But, the implication of this shoddy exercise is that the state has lost over N130 million from the projected revenue from cocoa allocation in 2016”.
He explained that the projected revenue about N200 million, should have been generated from payments for allocation fees by farmers, but only N68 million was realised adding that this was a huge set back to the government’s revenue drive.
Ofuka however stated that his office had mapped out strategy to begin verification of farmers to ascertain genuine allottees in the state three Cocoa Estates.
“We will first undertake physical verification exercise where farmers will be made to stand in front of their farms to receive their cocoa seedlings. “And later, we will carry out biometric capture of the farmers,’’ Ofuka said.
Commending the governor’s quick intervention on the matter, the Special Adviser assured the farmers that the state government’s target of 500,000 metric tons of cocoa annually would be feasible.
He also advised politicians, who were not professional farmers, to allow real cocoa farmers to do their work for the overall benefit of the state.
“We are trying to make cocoa our alternative revenue generating base in view of the dwindling federal allocation,’’ he said.