By Babatunde Ayedoju
Ondo State Government has distributed 260,000 improved seedlings to farmers at Oda cocoa farm estate.
The distribution was organised by Ondo State Cocoa Revolution and Management Agency, CocoRev.
Senior Special Assistant on Agri and Agro business to the State Governor, Pastor Akin Olotu, who represented the State Governor, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu appealed to youths to key into cocoa plantation instead of seeking white-collar jobs. He assured farmers that cocoa from Oda is globally adjudged to be safe.
He added that the state government has been partnering with private investors in order to maintain its lead as the largest producer of cocoa in Nigeria, in line with the REDEEMED agenda.
The Governor informed the gathering that Ondo State Government is aware of the EU regulation that prohibits the sale of cocoa from government reserves at the global market because of deforestation and climate change.
He advised the Federal Government to pay attention to tree crops because that is where Nigeria has comparative advantage.
He said, “We can’t compete with Europe in grains and livestock production. That is why the State Government has prioritised tree crops. Such crops will earn us foreign exchange and strengthen our naira.”
He also appealed to the Tinubu-led administration to extend long-term credit facilities to farmers and investors, adding that such a move would create millions of jobs for youths annually.
Administrative Secretary, Ondo State Cocoa Revolution and Management Agency, Mr Oluwole Omolakin, disclosed that the target of Ondo State Government is to raise and distribute 500,000 cocoa seedlings in Oda, Odigbo, Ondo, Ikare, Isuada and Akure annually.
In an interview with The Hope, Mr Adelusi Olakitan, Director of Cocoa Seed, Garden and Nursery in CocoRev, explained that the annual event is geared towards improving cocoa production in Ondo State.
He said that the hybrid seedlings which were distributed could mature within two years, unlike the conventional variety that takes at least seven years to mature, adding that the hybrid variety is resistant to pests, diseases and drought.
Some of the participants who also spoke with The Hope thanked the state government and advised other farmers to make judicious use of the seedlings given to them for free.