Ondo State begins cocoa revolution, sets 2,000 hectares for plantation

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The Ondo State Government has established about 2,000 hectares of modern cocoa plantation to boost cocoa production and revenue in the state.

Mr Adegboyega Adefarati, the State Commissioner for Agriculture, made the disclosure while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Akure.

Adefarati said the government had nursed 500,000 modern cocoa seedlings for the plantation, which he said could be harvested just after three years.

The commissioner, who explained that work had also commenced at Ajugbere Forest in Owo Local Government area of the state, said the state government was looking for interested partners to assist the state in archiving its objectives.

“Right now we are trying to cultivate a modern cocoa plantation, most of the trees we have now are old.

“But what we are trying to put in place now is another variety of cocoa that can be harvest just after two to three years of planting.

“The 2,000 hectares of cocoa plantation is capable of bringing back the lost glory of Ondo State, which was known as the highest producer of cocoa in the country.

“I strongly believe that when the plantation starts to function at optimal level, it will increase the activities of cocoa and state’s revenue.

The commissioner, who identified fermentation as the major problem affecting cocoa production, said the state government gave out fermentation boxes to registered farmers to improve the quality of their cocoa beans.

According to him, the government has embarked on campaign to sensitise farmers on the need to ferment their cocoa for at least a week before drying it.

“If fermentation is done in a proper way, it will improve the quality of cocoa beans and our produce will be accepted at international market.

“In view of this, government has distributed some fermentation boxes to registered farmers across the state,” he said.

Adefarati also disclosed that the state government had cultivated about 15,000 hectares of cassava for production of ethanol at Ose Local Government area of the state.

According to him, the government procures about 50,000 metric tonnes of fertiliser to make it available and affordable all year round to farmers in the state.

“For the first time in five years, the state government has been able to procure 50,000 metric tonnes of fertiliser.

“We are not going to give farmers cash loan but we are going to encourage them by supplying them with farm inputs and seedlings,” he said.

Adefarati also explained that government gave 14 tractors to 14 different farmers in the state for farming activities on hire purchase at a subsidised price.

He said since 2010 till date, these farmers are still owing government over N50 million.

“We are going to retrieve all the tractors back to the ministry very soon. We are not going to buy tractors anymore because when you buy and give to farmers, they don’t appreciate it.

“We will not buy tractors for individual farmer again unless they form themselves into groups and we can only stand as collateral for them if they want to buy from vendors,” Adefarati said.

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