By GABRIEL EWEPU
THE Federal Government has urged the six South-West states under the auspices of Development Agenda for Western Nigeria, DAWN, Commission, to consider floating a fund called Cocoa Investment Fund, CIF.
The Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Adesina Akinwumi said Cocoa fund should have the components of the federal and state governments, and including the private sector, in order to resuscitate cocoa production in a sustainable way.
Dr. Akinwumi, who made the call at a meeting with the six Commissioners of Agriculture from the states of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti recently in Abuja, promised that the FG will support the efforts of the region’s rapid agricultural development as a way of complimenting what the states were doing to transform the sector from a development concept to a business driven one.
“The region is most important when it comes to cocoa production; we are doing a lot in your state in cocoa production. We said that that we were going to distribute 3.5 million pods of high yielding cocoa seedlings, we registered 74, 664 cocoa farmers in the South-West, which is 74 per cent of the entire number of cocoa farmers across the country.
“In terms of the distribution of cocoa hybrid pods, and these are the cocoa that gets five times what farmers are currently getting and it matures two and half years instead of five years. We have done 1.1 million and 85 per cent of it had gone to the South-West States, and all free of charge.”
While calling for the establishment of a fund called Cocoa Investment Fund, CIF, Akinwumi promised that 1.4 million of sprouted palm oil nuts will be distributed to the South-West, adding that silos of various capacities were being constructed across the region.
The Minister decried the neglect of the farm settlements in the South-West and called on the governors to revive them with social infrastructure that will make them attractive to the youths who were unemployed, as it will further increase productivity and income generation.
Adesina, maintained that the federal government was determined to ensure that the agricultural sector receives a boost in the region as it was in the early years of Nigeria’s independence.
Adesina made it clear that the South-West states were not neglected in the Agricultural Transformation Agenda, ATA, following government’s intervention policies that had already revamped the sector in the region as it made serious commitments to revitalise agriculture as a way of complimenting what the state governments were doing.
He said, “I am particularly excited for the fact that at the World Economic Forum, WEF, the most successful, impactful, visible sector all the leaders talked about was agricultural interventions, but not only in Nigeria also in other several African countries. What was clear was that what Nigeria is doing in agriculture is seen as the way other African countries should invest in agriculture.”
“You can be assured of the strong support of the Federal Ministry of agriculture, and we will do agriculture as a business in your states. I will mandate my directors to work with you to achieve some of the mandates of DAWN.
“What I want to say here is that for the South-West Agriculture Commissioners, agriculture in this country is being done differently from as the way it was done before. It was seen to be a development programme but we have changed that, because it is not a social sector but must be grown as a straight line business.