Our agenda for cocoa in Kwara, by AbdulRazaq

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Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has said his administration has raised 50,000 hybrid Cocoa seedlings, which will be distributed to farmers at affordable prices once they mature in 18 months.

“This is being done with a view to ensuring the prompt and effective rehabilitation and regeneration of the aged Cocoa plantations or farms existing in the State,” Governor AbdulRazaq disclosed at the recent Cocoa Farmers’ Roundtable Conference held at Cocoa House, Oke Onigbin, in Isin Local Government Area of the State.

Represented by the State Commissioner for Agricultural and Rural Development, Mrs Adenike Afolabi-Oshatimehin, AbdulRazaq said 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.

Governor AbdulRazaq explained that the present administration understands that lack of basic social amenities, physical infrastructure, et al, could constitute disincentives for farming in agrarian communities in the State, saying “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 N200m counterpart fund for RAAMP III and another N49.78m 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.”

He assured the farmers that the administration remains firmly committed to rebuilding and reconstructing the state for the good of all and for the benefit of children yet unborn.

“Since we came on board, our administration has given so much attention to Cocoa because of its extensive value chain — just as we are doing with sugarcane and other essential crops and agricultural produce that can be successfully cultivated in the State,” he said.

“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.”

AbdulRazaq also 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 Kwara 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.