By Mohammed Kandi
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina said over 40,000 Cocoa farmers in the country have received various support from the Federal Government.
Adesina also said that his ministry had already distributed over one million disease – resistant, early maturing, high yielding cocoa pods and seedlings with polybags, agro chemicals and cocoa processing equipment to farmers across the country’s Cocoa geo-ecological zones in recent time.
Represented by a Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mrs. Ibukun Odusote, Adesina stated this during high level cocoa stakeholders GES implementation meeting held at Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), Ibadan recently.
A statement by Tony Ohaeri, Director Information and Protocol in the ministry, the minister said the Federal Government was committed to providing regular and timely farm inputs to farmers at subsidized rates to diversify and boost the nation’s economy.
The minister further stressed that the essence of the meeting was to appraise developments in the 2014 Cocoa GES roll- out, identify opportunities and challenges facing the cocoa economy and proffer solutions for the future, more especially, preparatory to the forth- coming 2015 cocoa year.
He expressed his satisfactions with statistical report released by the Federal Produce Inspection Service (FPIS) for 2013 fiscal year, saying “it showed a significant increase in cocoa production from a prior 300,000- MT to 350,000 MT which she said excluded a provisional 3.6m hybrid Cocoa Pods meant for distribution to farmers within 2015 – 2016 Cocoa years.”
Earlier, the Team Leader Cocoa Value Chain, Transformation Agenda, Dr. Peter Aikpokpodion, expressed delight that Cocoa product “is commanding high premium at the international market capable of complementing the nation’s engine of growth and building a strong and virile economy less dependent on crude oil revenue.”
Dr. Aikpokpodion, who condemned claims that the farmers were yet to benefit from the Cocoa GES Transformation initiative, however, asserted that “Agro-dealers and input suppliers, including Government Officials are beneficiaries.”
“No meaningful development change can come by without challenges no matter how good intentioned the policy is,” he added. “I am calling on the Cocoa Farmers to appreciate Federal Governments’ magnanimity in the provision of Free Farm Inputs to them in the nation’s avowed agricultural reforms and revolution.”
In his remarks, the Vice President, Cocoa Association of Nigeria (CAN) Chief Adesokan Lasun, called for a operational modification in the distribution of farm inputs to realize the overall objectives of FG’S cocoa transformation.