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Friday, December 9, 2022

Cocoa: How Nigeria can reclaim leading role—Experts

By Fatima Muraina

For Nigeria to regain her leading global role in cocoa production, producing states must enforce Produce law and Allied Matters.

Besides, government should also formulate policy document on land ownership to put an end to how cocoa farms were being destroyed for residential estates, ‘agricultural experts’ have counseled in separate interviews with The Hope.

There is also the need for intensified efforts on production of cocoa seedlings and massive sensitization campaign on cocoa revolution in the producing states. Currently Ondo State is the highest Cocoa producing State in the country.

Nigeria was once the leading Cocoa exporting country in the world with 600,000 metric tonnes annually, but now struggling for the fourth position with Cameroun after Ivory Coast and Ghana took the lead as the first and second position respectively.

Ivory Coast last year exported 2.2m metric tonnes of cocoa in 2021 while Ghana exported 1.5m metric tonnes. Nigeria exported 340,000 metric tonnes.

The agricultural experts said increase in the country’s cocoa production in conjunction with other value chain will give the country a better advantage.

Those who spoke with The Hope are Director of Technical and Research Farm, Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba, AAUA, Dr Jibayo Oyebade, Head of Department of Agric Extension, Federal University of Technology Akure, FUTA Prof James Okunola and Prof.Oladele Babatola, of FUTA.

Others are: National President of Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN) Adeola Adegoke and Senior Special Assistant to Ondo State Governor on Agro Businesses, Pastor Akin Olotu

Dr Jibayo Oyebade said Produce Law and Allied Matters encapsulated all the conditions that must be obeyed to get quality cocoa.

He called on farmers to rehabilitate their cocoa plantations and get what he called the genuine improved seedlings and plant them with a better prescription as contained in the Produce and Allied law.

Oyebade observed that Nigeria land cannot expand but that farmers should adopt new farming techniques.

“There are lots of abandoned farms, they should go and do rehabilitation,” he stated.

Prof James Okunola called for intensified effort on production of cocoa seedlings and carry out massive sensitization campaign on cocoa revolution in the producing states.

“When these are done, there is need to replace the aging cocoa farms and plantations,” he stated.

Prof.Oladele Babatola, a Civil Engineer with FUTA declared the possibility of retrieving back the lost glory of cocoa with determination, but that the issue of non availability of land remains an obstacle.

He called on government to bring up a policy document on land ownership to put an end to how cocoa farms are being destroyed for residential estate.

The National President of Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria CFAN, Mr Adeola Adegoke said the association has published and shared freely the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) book to all cocoa farmers in ensuring the production of good quality cocoa.

He acknowledged the giant stride recorded in the cocoa sector by the various past governments of Ondo State, especially the feat recently recorded by the Governor of the state, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, for making Ondo State to remain the highest cocoa producing State in Nigeria.

Adegoke stated that Ondo state currently produces 85,000 metric tonnes, which represented the single highest in the State and 40 per cent of the total cocoa produced in Nigeria.

Senior Assistant to the Governor on Agric and Agric Business, Pastor Akin Olotu stated that millions of Cocoa seedlings and farm inputs were given to 150,000 Cocoa farmers in Ondo and Osun states in a partnership tagged: “Johvents’ Cocoa Sustainability and Farmers Empowerment Programme.”

This he stated would ensure Ondo state becomes the leading cocoa producing state in Nigeria.

He disclosed that over 10,000 hectares of land have been cleared at Jugbere in Owo Local Government area solely for the cultivation of cocoa, while it has distributed over 500,000 improved cocoa seedlings.

Olotu stated no fewer than 250,000 cocoa trees would be standing fruits in the state, urged farmers to ensure that they apply the good agricultural practices for improved quality which is the basis to meet the target.

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