Ogun state has been recognized as a focal state in the Cocoa Development Initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
This is as a result of the strides of the state at ensuring food sufficiency, industrialization and economic development through agriculture in the country.
Dr. Godwin Emefiele, CBN Governor ably represented by the Head, Financial Development, CBN, Abeokuta, Mrs. Yemisi Olukoya disclosed this at the Cocoa Development Initiative Stakeholders Meeting organised by the state government in partnership with the CBN at the Ogun Techhub, Kobape.
Olukoya applauded the state government for the initiative in pushing for the inclusion of the state in the cocoa development program, being a focal commodity being funded by the CBN.
She stated that the government had satisfied the conditions of land evaluation/testing, inter-cropping of plantain with cocoa as well as allocation of land to farmers as indicated by the bank.
She challenged government to take steps to make cocoa farming attractive so as to encourage youths to get involved in cocoa farming.
Adding that private investors and partnerships should be linked to the program, as well as providing alternative water resources to avoid loss of farm produce during drought season.
Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr. Adeola Odedina in his goodwill message revealed that the government was aware of the huge contributions of cocoa to export and to the economy of the country, as well as the immense value-chain job opportunities and industrialization that are attached to this commodity, hence the government’s proactive approach to ensuring farmers benefit from the cocoa development program.
Dr. Odedina hinted that the government tested lands and took steps to facilitate plantain co-cropping with cocoa at no cost to the farmers, and was ready to allocate lands to them for cultivation in a bid to ensure jobs are created especially for youths and industrialising the industry.
“With this initiative, the private sector will be linked to the CBN to enhance value addition, rejuvenation of old farms and establishment of new cocoa farms as well as land allocation to farmers,” Odedina enthused.
Furthermore, he affirmed: “CBN insisted that Ogun State must passed the three tests that we must do before we benefit from this cocoa initiative. That we must do soil evaluation of all our soil in the twenty local government areas so that we can advise cocoa farmers, so that they wouldn’t be turning down applications from Ogun State.
“And the government approved Institute of Agricultural Research Training (IART) of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), in Ibadan to do soil evaluation for the state and they delivered and that is why we are here to share the information with stakeholders.
“The other one is that we should be ready to key into plantain production because it goes with cocoa maintenance and we have done that.
“The huge one is the value addition. we are in a state with the highest hub of industries including agro-processors and cocoa, these are potential ones. So all the cocoa processors are either in Ogun State or Lagos. So, if you produce your own cocoa here and its very near to where it can be processed while other states take their cocoa to Lagos. So we will be tapping into this opportunity.
“What about controlling weed, so we will be tapping into this opportunity because there is a huge job opportunity that we can relate to in terms of cocoa sector.”
Speaking in an interview, the chairman of the Cocoa Farmers Association (CAFAN), Apostle Solomon Taiwo Williams, appreciated government for such a laudable initiative, maintaining that the long-term challenge of land allocation, would be met.