Determined to boost cocoa production in Ogun State, the government has distributed 10,000 free improved cocoa seedlings to some farmers in Itele, Ijebu East Local Government Area.
Speaking during the distribution process, Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr. Adeola Odedina said the Prince Dapo Abiodun-led administration had collaborated with Tulip Cocoa Processing Company and Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), to produce the seedlings.
Dr. Odedina noted that the seedlings when planted would mature in 18 months as against the old variety which takes up to three to five years to mature, adding that soil evaluation had been carried out across the State, to enable farmers to know where it could be best grown, saying the information was available in the Ministry for interested farmers.
He said the Governor had directed that the seedlings be made available to farmers free of charge, calling on youths and farmers in the State to take advantage of the ongoing distribution of the seedlings to enhance cocoa production capacity.
“The implication of this is that if a young farmer decides to go into cocoa cultivation with the new variety of cocoa seedlings, in about two years he would have become a successful cocoa farmer”, the Commissioner said.
Speaking, the Sustainability Manager, Tulip, Dr. Taiwo Osun commended the State government for encouraging youths and farmers to go into cocoa farming, adding that the step would be a viable option for those without means of livelihood.
Osun said the present administration had been partnering with the company on training, advisory services, and distribution of high-yielding improved seedlings that had increased the company’s production capacity.
Speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries, the Chairman, Agbegbemi Cooperative Farmers’ Union, Mr. Adegoke Rasheed, applauded the State government’s gesture, saying the free seedlings would go a long way in boosting cocoa exportation.