The Kwara Government says it has raised 50,000 hybrid Cocoa seedlings for distribution to farmers in the state at affordable prices.
Gov. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq disclosed this at the Cocoa Farmers’ Roundtable Conference held at the Cocoa House, Oke Onigbin, in Isin Local Government Area of the state.
AbdulRazaq, who was represented by the State Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mrs Adenike Afolabi-Oshatimehin, said the seedlings would mature in 18 months.
He said this was been done with a view to ensuring the prompt and effective rehabilitation and regeneration of the aged Cocoa plantations or farms in the state.
He noted that the government would establish a Cocoa nursery in the state to serve as the genuine source of planting materials for the farmers.
“In this fiscal year, we plan to resuscitate the training and retraining of cocoa farmers on good agricultural practices through the Farmers Field School (FFS) and Farmers Business School (FBS), respectively.
“This is being done with a view to enhancing the quality of the cocoa beans being produced in the state.
“In addition, we also intend to look into prospects of being able to possibly address extant challenges associated with some of the critical input requirements of cocoa farmers in the state,” he added.
The governor explained that the present administration understands that lack of basic social amenities and physical infrastructure, among others, could constitute disincentives for farming in agrarian communities.
“It is for this reason and more, that we are committing significant resources to road construction, healthcare, water and basic education in the 2020 budget, which has just been passed and assented to.
“Agriculture occupies a vantage position under this administration. We have invested a lot of money to reposition the sector, beginning with the N200 million counterpart fund for RAAMP III and another N49.78 million FADAMA counterpart fund, among others.
“We have also made appreciable budgetary provisions for agriculture this year, while also engaging the Federal Government and private investors on how to grow the sector in the state,” Abdulrazaq said.
He assured that the administration was committed to rebuilding and reconstructing the state for the good of all and for the benefit of children yet unborn.
He added that since inception of the present administration, attention has been given to Cocoa because of its extensive value chain.
He also stated that similar attention was given to sugarcane and other essential crops and agricultural produce that can be successfully cultivated in the state.
“Kwara is currently grouped as a minor Cocoa state in Nigeria, owing in part to the perennial migration of cocoa farmers to other states and the seemingly unabated trend of rural-urban migration.
“This is a narrative that we want to change and as soon as possible,” he said.
AbdulRazaq congratulated the Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN) for the event, which he said was designed to discuss the way to reposition the Cocoa subsector in the state and other parts of Nigeria, where cocoa could be grown successfully.
He assured the farmers that the administration would work with them to develop the cocoa subsector in the state.