Cocoa Farmers Get Free Seeds To Boost Output


In a bid to bring cocoa back to reckoning as an agricultural commodity of note, and to help farmers improve on their output, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has commenced free distribution of high-yielding, early fruiting and early maturing varieties of  cocoa seeds to farmers in the southwestern part of Nigeria.

This was done last week during the flag-off ceremony at Ago Store, Owena, near Akure, Ondo State. The project targets the distribution of hybrid cocoa pod to enterprising Nigerian cocoa farmers, called “cocoa agropreneurs”.

At the ceremony, the ministry’s director in charge of southwest, Dr. Julius Odeyemi, in a speech read on behalf of the minister, Dr. Akin Adesina, said: “It is our hope that as we flag off the free distribution of these selected hybrid pods today, they will be useful to re-position cocoa as a veritable and substantial foreign exchange earning commodity, creating jobs, wealth and prosperity for our farmers, traders, warehouse merchants, processors and exporters, state governments and the nation as a whole.”

Cocoa agribusiness, according to the minister, “must be attractive to the youths in both operation and wealth creation. We must harness our resources to play significantly in the global market.”

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The minister gave background information about the cocoa industry situation, warranting such a scale and level of intervention. “This gesture,” he said, “is in realisation of the fact that use of selected and improved planting materials is a major key to achieving our set objective of doubling our current production to 500,000 MT by 2015 as we march towards our 1.0 million metric tonnes target by 2018.”

“A strategic consideration in the transformation of the cocoa sector is the use of improved genetic stocks (newly released CRINc1 – 8, WACRI 11 Hybrids and F3-Amazon) and phased replacement of old unproductive stocks with new high yielding stocks.  To stop further use of poor yielding and old varieties and systematically replace the tree stocks in Nigeria, we have engaged specialised seed production units at Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria, Tree Crops Units of Ondo, Osun and Ekiti States to produce 3.6 million hybrid pods that will be given to cocoa farmers. This has the potential of raising the current production on farms from 350 kg/ha to 1,000 kg/ha and also reducing time of maturity from five years to two or three years of field establishment,” he disclosed.

The minister stressed that the cocoa transformation programme strategically addresses the “constraints as we adopt the whole value chain approach from input supply to support on-farm production to value addition, local consumption and export of produce and products. Our goal is to eventually account for at least 25 % of the world market with an output of 500,000 MT by 2015, as we aim at the 1.0 million MT mark.”

—Henry Ojelu