Ondo to establish largest cocoa estate in Africa
By Kehinde Oluwatayo
The Ondo State Government said it has concluded arrangements to establish a single largest cocoa estate in Africa on 2,000 hectares of cocoa plantation at Ijugbere, in Owo Local Government area.
The State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Adegboyega Adefarati, who disclosed this in Akure at a media briefing, said that it was a deliberate plan to further grow the cocoa industry in the state.
According to a statement signed by the Head of Media Unit of the Ministry, Mr Bolu Ajijo, Adefarati said that government had embarked on giving free cocoa seedlings to farmers so that the state could regain its lost glory in cocoa production and for the farmers to understand the premium it placed on agriculture.
Adefarati said that this had led to the expansion of farm settlements, improvement in farmers’ yields and repositioning of Ondo as the number one cocoa producing state in Nigeria.
“The present administration commenced free distribution of improved cocoa seedlings across the state in 2018, with over 400,000 seedlings and it has distributed over 250,000 cocoa seedlings and thousands of oil palm, coconut and kolanut seedlings this year”.
The Commissioner expressed the state government’s commitment to boosting agricultural activities and encouraging youths to embrace agriculture.
Adefarati further disclosed that government had also commenced replacing old cocoa trees, with long gestation period, with improved seedlings.
The Commissioner commended the Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu-led administration for giving the moribund agricultural sector in the state a facelift.
According to him, rehabilitation is already ongoing at the Sunshine Fisheries Farm, with an annual production capacity of five million juveniles, which had been abandoned for more than 11 years.
He said farmers registration was ongoing in government reserves and farm settlements across the state to ensure wholesome agricultural practices and guide against encroachments.
Aside enabling the state to have near accurate data of farmers in government reserves, the Commissioner said that the exercise would also increase revenue generation from the farm settlements.