By Fatima Muraina
Ondo State Commissioner for Agriculture, Asiwaju Adegboye Adefarati has commended the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), for its support for cocoa and oil Palm productions with a view to boosting their productions in the Niger Delta region.
The Commissioner who gave the commendation, during a courtesy visit by staff/consultants of the FAO to his office, also commended the organization for counting the state worthy of that gesture which is a measure of confidence the international organization has for the state.
It would be recalled, that FAO, an arm of the United Nations, had approved the sum of $2.5million for Ondo state and Cross River State out of the $10 million dollars approved as agricultural support grant to support the existing Cocoa and oil Palm in some states in the Niger Delta region for boost productions.
According to FAO, the amount allocated to the two states is 59 per cent of Global Environmental Financing GEF- 7 food systems, land use and restoration impact programme (FOLUR-:IP) fund because they still possess 5O percent of their natural rain forest.
Adefarati noted that the funds will be used to strengthen existing facilities in the cocoa and Oil Palm production value chains and also make the environment sustainable through the practice of agro forestry.
While reassuring FAO Staff and Consultants of the state’s commitment in ensuring the success of the programme which is designed to last the next six years, Adefarati said the inclusion of Ondo as one of the principal beneficiaries in Nigeria did not come as a surprise.
He said the State performance index in previous donors and international organizations agricultural-led support programmes/projects has always been second to none in Nigeria.
According to FAO statistics, Ondo and Cross Rivers states currently possessed not less than 50 percent of the entire natural rain forest belts in Nigeria.
Earlier the FAO team leader, Mrs Nifesimi Ogunkua said their visit to the state was to get intimated with stakeholders especially professionals in the sector on how to ensure the success of the project.
The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Agriculture and Agribusiness, Mr. Akin Olotu, said the state government’s commitment to sound biodiversity management practises can be seen in the approval for planting of large scale economic tree, such as Teak along Ore – Omotosho axis through Public Private Sector arrangement.
He said, approval has been given to over 1,000 small scale farmers from different parts of the state to plant economic trees.
Cocoa and Oil palm production in the state, Olotu noted has drastically improved, attributing it to the annual distribution of improved seedlings and singlets to farmers free of charge.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Alhaji Kunle Sanni, who highlighted various deliberate efforts and activities of Ondo State Government in maintaining the natural biodiversity assured the FAO team of the Ministry’s support to ensure success of the project.
The team who was in the state for a week visited six local government areas in Akure South and North, Idanre, Owo, Ondo East, and Irele to see the existing cocoa and oil palm facilities.