The Federal Government has constituted a National Cocoa Management Committee (NCMC) to increase the productivity of the commodity and generate more revenue for farmers and the government.

The move, the government said, is aimed at increasing the share benefits received by cocoa farmers as it is done in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammed Abubakar, said this while inaugurating the committee yesterday in Abuja.

The minister said the move became pertinent, following the recent visit by the ministry’s officials to Ghana to study the implementation of Living Income Differential (LID).

He said: “…The essence of this committee is to develop strategies to solve these challenges to move the cocoa industry forward.

“In order to work out the modalities for Nigerian cocoa farmers to start benefiting from this initiative, like their counterparts in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, this committee is being set up.

“The NCMC shall organise and conduct a national conference for Commissioners of Agriculture from the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to sensitise them on the importance of LID and efforts of the Federal Government towards ensuring that our smallholder cocoa farmers also enjoy the benefit, like Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.

“The NCMC shall develop local, state and Federal Government strategic implementation plans of the National Cocoa Management Committee. The NCMC shall develop a Nigerian charter towards joining the Ghana/Cote d’Ivoire initiative.

“The NCMC shall establish a data bank for all multinational companies and exporters of cocoa beans from Nigerian ports.”

The minister stressed that members of the committee were drawn from all relevant stakeholders in the public and private sectors, in line with global best practices.

Addressing members of the committee, he said: “One of your immediate tasks is to come up with an urgent draft charter for the operations of NCMC which will enable an Executive Bill to be forwarded to the National Assembly for legal backing to meet the demand of joining the Ghana/Cote d’Ivoire initiative to deliver Living Income Differential (LID) of $400/tonne, which will in turn improve the livelihood of our smallholder cocoa farmers in the country.”