By Dayo Johnson
AKUREâ€”THE 14 cocoaÂ producing states in the country, weekend, blamed the Minister of Agriculture, Abba Ruma over the dwindling fortune of cocoa in the country.
The statesÂ have put together a conference of the 14 cocoa producing states to fashion out appropriate strategies forÂ implementation with a view to repositioning cocoa industry and bringing it back to its lost glory.
Ondo State Deputy Governor, Alhaji Alli Olanusi at a briefing to announce the formation of the conference on Cocoa, in Akure said, the Minister had failed to function as the chairman of the National Cocoa Development Committee, NCDC.
The conference which is slated for tomorrow and Wednesday would be attended by all the deputy governors of the 14 cocoa producing states of the federation, Cocoa Farmers Association, Golden Cocoa Growers Association of Nigeria.
Olanusi said â€œthe minister has,Â in the last one year, not call a meeting being the chairman of the NCDC that would enable the producing states deliberate on how to improve cocoa production in the country.â€
He regretted that cocoa production that was 330, 000 metric tonnes in 2006/2007 dropped to 212, 000 tonnes in 2008/2009.
The deputy governor, however, alleged that the action of the minister was deliberate since he was not from one of the cocoa producing states.
He said the last one year had been bad for cocoa production as the minister had no time for the product with the Ministry of Agriculture omitting it from the list of tree crops to be developed in the country.