By Kenneth Afor
In a conscious effort to boost the nation’s agriculture sector and to make the federal government’s school feeding programme sustainable, Adeola Adegoke, president of the Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN) has called on the government to include a cocoa drink as part of a daily meal for the pupils in schools where the programme is currently running in the country.
The school feeding programme was initiated by the federal government in 2015 as a strategy to encourage more school-age children in the classroom.
Adegoke said if this initiative is set in motion the challenges of having low cocoa production in the country will be minimized and it will boost the nation’s economy, thereby lifting many Nigerians out of poverty by way of the jobs that would be created.
He expressed appreciation to Rotimi Akeredolu, governor of Ondo State, for giving out 25,000 cocoa seedlings to farmers in the state.
“It is our added conviction that Ondo state as a leading state in cocoa production has a pacesetter role to play in the sustainability programme in Nigeria” Adegoke stated.
Responding to the association’s call, Adegboyega Afarati, commissioner for agriculture who represented the governor, charged CFAN to make farming an attractive venture for the youths to emulate.
“This administration will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that your request is given priority attention. As I speak, work is in progress in more than 60 kilometre feeder roads linking the various camps and villages to enable our farmers move their produce without hitch.
“It is equally worthwhile to mention that this administration has embarked on free distribution of cocoa seedlings to farmers for their new planting season and rehabilitation programmes in the current year,” he added.
Adegboyega however, identified old age among farmers, urbanization, price fluctuation, old varieties of cocoa and poor infrastructure as being the obstacles facing the cocoa industry from blooming in the state.
Olusegun Mimiko, a former governor of the state urged the government to put in place strategies that will enable cocoa farms to make more profits on their produce, and expressed dismay at the unhealthy practice by middlemen in determining the cocoa price for farmers.
“Our responsibility is to add value to cocoa sector and make it more profitable. The value accrued to farmers is usually less than six percent,” he stated.
Frontpage September 17, 2019