Akure — Determined to reverse the downward trend in the Nigeria's cocoa production, the federal government yesterday stated that it had distributed 300,000 hybrid cocoa seedlings to farmers in four geopolitical zones, where cocoa is being produced, through the Federal Ministry for Agriculture and Rural Development.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Mohammed Nanono, stated this at the inauguration of the National Secretariat of the Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN) in Akure, the Ondo State capital.
Nanono also stated that some other agricultural inputs were also distributed to the farmers, saying specifically that the seedlings were distributed to the farmers in the Southwest, South-south, North Central and South-east geopolitical regions of the country.
According to the minister, the gesture of the federal government was part of the efforts to develop the agriculture sector, increase production, and encourage cocoa farmers.
He said: "The ministry has so far distributed over 300,000 improved hybrid cocoa seedlings to Southwest, South-south, North Central and South-east regions. Also, about 350 cartons of Ultimax-plus were distributed last year to the South-south and South-east regions' roll-out.
"The 500units of Solo pumps were also distributed to cocoa farmers aimed at increasing cocoa production from the present 250,000 metric tons to 350,000 metric tons."
"The FMARD also recently procured growth enhancers, fungicides (Ultimax plus) and insecticides (Avesthrin), which were being distributed to cocoa farmers at subsidised rates to enhance production alongside the support of solar cocoa collapsible driers to cocoa commodity associations."
The minister urged the farmers' association to continue contributing meaningfully to increase production and productivity despite "daunting challenges so as to move cocoa production to a desirable level and improve the livelihood of our cocoa farmers and other actors in the value chain."
In his remarks, the state Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, who was represented by his Deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, at the event, said the state had been promoting local consumption of cocoa produced in the state.
Speaking also at the programme, the National Chairman of the CFAN, Mr. Adeola Adegoke, sought more assistance from the government in the area of cocoa inputs subsidisation for his members farmers.