The Ogun State Government has so far distributed 10,000 cocoa seedlings to farmers in the state.
The cocoa seedlings 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.
The Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr Adeola Odedina, explained that the gesture was part of the government’s plan to continue the sustainability of good quality cocoa seedlings to enhance cocoa production the state.
The distribution commenced in Itele, Ijebu East Local Government Area of Ogun State.
Odedina, while presenting the seedlings, explained that the Prince Dapo Abiodun-led administration was determined to boost the production of cocoa in the state, hence its collaboration with Tulip Cocoa Processing Company and Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN) to distribute the seedlings.
Odedina said the government carried out soil evaluation across the state, to enable farmers know where is best suitable to grow cocoa, saying this information is available in the ministry for interested farmers.
The commissioner 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.
He explained that in spite of the fact that the improved seedlings are quite expensive, the governor directed that the seedlings be made available to farmers free.
Speaking in an interview, the Sustainability Manager of Tulip, Dr. Taiwo Osun, commended the state government for encouraging youths and farmers to go into cocoa farming, adding that this step will act as a viable option for those without means of livelihood.
He said the state government had been partnering with cocoa processing industries through training, advisory services and distribution of high-yielding improved seedlings that has 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, adding that the free seedlings will go a long way in improving cocoa production in the state.