Cross River Government lost over N130 million revenue in 2016 due to allocation of cocoa farms to ghost farmers, Mr Oscar Ofuka, Special Adviser to Gov. Ben Ayade on Cocoa Development, has said.
Ofuka made the disclosure on Monday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Calabar.
He said the governor had consequently directed a total review of allocations done by the Cocoa Allocation Committee to ensure that genuine farmers were given allocation.
“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.
“The projected revenue was N200 million, supposed to be generated from payments for allocation fees by farmers.
“But, only N68 million was realised. This is a huge set back to the government’s revenue drive.
“Also, the state lost a whole farming year, and we are about losing another year due to this discrepancies,’’ Ofuka said.
The governor’s aide said 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.
He lauded the governor’s quick intervention on the matter, assuring the farmers that the state government’s target of 500,000 metric tons of cocoa annually would be feasible.
Ofuka 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.