AKURE — Permanent Secretary, Ondo State Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Bankole Ogunsuyi, said, yesterday that the state government had withheld the cocoa development fund to farmers to forestall fraud.
Ogunsuyi told the News Agency of Nigeria, in Akure, that the government took the decision to halt pilfering of the fund. He said that the fund was withheld because of alleged collusion between the Farmers’ Congress and the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), to open a new bank account.
Ogunsuyi said the state government had observed that the leadership of the farmers’ unions was divided over money.
The official also said that N7 million had been withdrawn by the leaders of farmers in the last three months without the knowledge of the supervising ministry.
“Government has issued a directive to close further transactions.
“Cocoa development account is held in trust for all cocoa farmers by representatives of the farmers, Ministry of Agriculture, and the Ministry of Natural Resources, which collects the money,” he said.
Ogunsuyi, however, urged the farmers to unite, to enhance the progress of their associations.
Earlier, Mr Akin Olotu, the new elected chairman of AFAN in the state, described the decision of the state government as a welcome development.
He said that although the fund was utilised for its intended purpose, it was disbursed on selfish and sectional purposes.
Olotu suggested that part of the money should be shared to the national body, the commodity association, while part of it should be retained as stabilisation fund in the Ministry of Agriculture