Cocoa farming can be lucrative investment for Imo civil servants
March 13, 2023103 views0 comments
INNOCENT DIKE, chairman, Imo State chapter of the Cocoa and Plantain Farmers Association of Nigeria (CP-FAN), says investment in cocoa is a long lasting venture and he speaks about the benefits members of the association derive from their investment in cocoa farming in this interview with SABY ELEMBA.
What is the state of things in the Cocoa and Plantain Producers Association, Imo chapter?
Right now, we have scheduled a meeting, which will take place this month, at the end of March. But we have been doing underground work to ensure the successful hosting of the meeting.
As the chairman of the association, what do you have in hand?
We are organising elections in all the local governments in Imo State where we have a presence. It is a programme to make Imo State a cocoa farming state. We have organised elections in some local government areas like, Ngor-Okpala, Ikeduru, Isu, Orlu, Ohaji /Egbema, Oguta, Ihitte-Uboma and Ahiazu Mbaise and others are coming up soon when Nigeria must have done away with its general elections.
— Chairman, Imo CP-FAN
Apart from holding elections, are there plans to collaborate with some organisations this year ?
This year, we are planning to collaborate with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) in the area of non-oil industry and in the area of providing improved and latest cocoa seedlings to farmers.
We also plan to … you know the name is cocoa and plantain association … so, our goal is to make Imo State one of the largest producers of plantain just like we have it in Ondo where you have large hectares of land. Our problem in Imo State is lack of land, we can spread it across the 27 local government areas, one hectare of land to each local government. This is the minimum, but if we have a local government that will provide more than one hectare we will also support them.
How is the relationship between CP-FAN and the Imo State government?
The state government is not helping matters. The government is not showing interest and presence; the government is not showing support. Anything we are doing is according to our capacity. We are still looking forward to hearing from them, to say: “farmers we are supporting you people.” It was just last year the state government gave some cocoa farmers some seedlings. But we are saying that they have to increase their support to cocoa farmers.
You have a national body, don’t you collaborate with this body to see where help may come from ?
The national body, the National Association of Cocoa and Plantain Farmers Association of Nigeria, we also collaborate with them to attract the Anchor Borrowers loan. And that we started last year, but we are still on it. As soon as the elections in the country are over we will start again.
We are looking at about 100 cocoa and plantain farmers in Imo State benefiting from the Anchor Borrowers loan. We are telling them to make it earlier between now and June so that farmers can use it.
Do you organise training and workshops for farmers?
Yes, we are planning for a training [programme] that will come [up] around June/July, which will be titled “Best Practices in Cocoa and Plantain Farming”. For the training, we will collaborate with our regional cocoa institute, which is in Ibeku Umuahia, Abia State. We are going to bring some of their professionals. Because we know that they have varieties of cocoa seedlings at the research institute which, when planted, can start yielding in one year and six months.
That’s part of our programmes, we want to introduce it to farmers, and they will have access to different varieties. In that training also, those professionals from the institute will tell us the latest in cocoa production. And you know that cocoa is a big market for both local and international consumption.
Is the training not a part of awareness creation for those farmers in Imo?
It is a part of awareness creation, making people know the importance, the potentials, they can tap knowledge in the training for cocoa and plantain. We are talking about cocoa, we are talking about plantain also because plantain is a business, and almost every household in Nigeria consumes plantain everyday, so it is a big market.
Our members will be there and those who have interest. We are going to teach ‘sucker multiplication’, so that from one plantain sucker you can produce up to 30 plantain suckers. Even for people who do not have money, if they can acquire that sucker, it will be multiplied. Other opportunities will be exposed to farmers now that we are talking about the value chain. We educate our people on how to process cocoa powder.
We will also educate them on the health benefits of processing 100 percent cocoa powder. And taking processed cocoa powder is better than beverages like Bournvita. In pure cocoa powder, you can also add milk and sugar to make it tasty.
Cocoa farming is a very good and long lasting investment. For the civil servants in the state, cocoa is an investment option for them.