The Cross River Cocoa Board says it has set up a Task Force to recover the over N700 million owed the State in the past four years by Cocoa lease farmers.
The Acting Chairman of the board, Mr Oscar Ofuka, disclosed this after conducting newsmen round a cocoa farm in Calabar.
He said the task force had been mandated to use every lawful means to recover such agriculture debt.
According to him, in the past four years some political office holders that turned themselves into political farmers have refused to pay lease fees to the government.
“The Governor has since directed the revocation of all lease allocations since 2016, and allocation of new ones which had since commenced.
“The Landlord communities are part of the task force, as well as other stakeholders in the Cocoa industry.
“They have been mandated to use all civilised means including taking defaulters to the mobile Court to recover the funds,” Oscar said.
The chairman added that following the setting up of the task force, the response from debtors had been impressive.
“The response so far has been encouraging. Some of them have started paying to ensure that they get new allocations,” he said.
He maintained that the board was eager to recover the debts for the state government, adding that anyone who failed to pay would face the consequence.
Oscar said that Cross River was looking onto Cocoa as the mainstay of its economy, “and that is why the government is doing everything possible to reinvigorate the sector.”
The acting chairman explained further that efforts were in top gear for the rehabilitation of all moribund Cocoa estates in Ikom and Etung Local Government Areas of the state.