The Ogun State Government has distributed 10,000 cocoa seedlings to farmers in the state, which were given free of charge to over 3,000 farmers in Ijebu East alone, towards meeting up with the target of distributing 100,000 cocoa seedlings. According to the Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr. Adeola Odedina, the gesture was part of government’s plan to continue the sustainability of good quality cocoa seedlings to enhance cocoa production in the state. Dr. Odedina, while presenting the seedlings, explained that the administration of Prince Dapo Abiodun was poised to boost the production of cocoa in Ogun State in collaboration with Tulip Cocoa Processing Company and Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN) for distribution of the seedlings. The commissioner said the government had carried out soil evaluation across the state, to enable farmers know where is best suitable to grow cocoa, saying this information was available in the ministry for interested farmers. He also noted that the seedlings, when planted, would mature in 18 months as against the old variety that took up to three to five years to mature.
“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,” he said. The commissioner explained further that in spite of the fact that the improved seedlings are quite expensive, the governor had directed that the seedlings be made available to farmers free of charge. The Sustainability Manager of Tulip, Dr. Taiwo Osun lauded the state government for encouraging youths and farmers to go into cocoa farming, adding that this step would act as a viable option for those without means of livelihood, saying the state government had been partnering cocoa processing industries through training, advisory services and distribution of high-yielding improved seedlings that have increased the company’s production capacity. On his part, the chairman of Agbegbemi Cooperative Farmers Union, Mr. Adegoke Rasheed, commended the state government’s gesture because it would go a long way in improving cocoa production in the Gateway State.