By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
With concerns arising from Nigerians over food production and affordability, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, Wednesday, assured prioritising cocoa and plantain value chains to boost food production.
Abubakar gave the assurance during a courtesy visit by a delegation of the Cocoa and Plantain Farmers Association of Nigeria, CPFAN, led by its National President, Chief Ayodele Ojo, in Abuja.
He said cocoa and plantain occupies strategic position in the agricultural sector to galvanize the nation’s economy, as they currently contribute significantly to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP, hence should not be toyed with.
He said: “The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is ready to support Cocoa and Plantain Farmers Association of Nigeria, CPFAN, to boost the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) of the economy in the area of employment creation, food sufficiency, increase earnings for smallholder farmers as well as income generation.
“The Cocoa sub-sector contributes to the GDP of Nigeria and should not be toyed with, and as such must be fully harnessed to ensure that the agricultural base is established.
“The agro-industry is experiencing revitalization with dedicated Federal Government policies towards encouraging smallholder farmers and investors as well as grow the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).”
Earlier, the National President, CPFAN, Chief Ayodele Ojo, acknowledged and lauded effort achievement of the Ministry, specifically empowering the grassroots farmers and the overall development of the agricultural sector.
Ojo also pointed that Nigeria being heavily endowed with land and human resources, which agriculture comes the topmost, should look inwards on how to harness and optimally utilize the enormous resources to create massive jobs and wealth for Nigerians.
However, he lamented that the country’s food production is still low compared to the huge agricultural resources.
Going back to the good old days of cocoa and plantain sub-sectors from historic perspective, he (Ojo) said the two commodities had been major contributors to the Nigerian economy before the discovery of oil in the early 1960s.
“Great feats were achieved under the leadership of Chief Obafemi Awolowo as the Premier of the Western Region. Some of the then achievements were construction of 26 Storey Cocoa House in Ibadan, Liberty Stadium, amongst others,” he said.
He, however, pointed out that CPFAN was willing to be part of the solution to the many challenges being facing farmers and other stakeholders along the cocoa and plantain value chains.
He also called on farmers and other stakeholders along the cocoa and plantain value chains to collaborate and complement each other to boost productivity and profitability.