Coco farmers demand free hybrid cocoa seedlings from govts
The Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN) in Osun has called on both the Federal and State governments to provide free hybrid cocoa seedlings to farmers to boost cocoa production in Nigeria.
Mr Moses Oladipupo, Chairman of the Association in Osun told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Osogbo on Thursday that there was the need to replace the old cocoa trees with the hybrid seedlings to enhancing production.
According to him, old cocoa trees can no longer produce cocoa fruits as the hybrid trees, this accounts for the low cocoa production in Nigeria.
The crop was a major foreign exchange earner for Nigeria in the 1950s and 1960s and in 1970, the country was the second largest producer in the world but following investments in the oil sector in the 1970s and 1980s, Nigeria’s share of world output declined.
Cocoa production is important to the economy of Nigeria. Cocoa is the leading agricultural export of the country and Nigeria is currently the world’s fourth largest producer of Cocoa, after Ivory Coast, Indonesia and Ghana.
In 2010, Cocoa production accounted for only 0.3% of agricultural GDP. Average cocoa beans production in Nigeria between 2000 and 2010 was 389,272 tonnes per year , rising from 170,000 tonnes produced in 1999.
“The cocoa trees are dying gradually due to their old age, and this leads to reduction in harvest. Even the newly-planted cocoa trees, which are not of hybrid are susceptible to dry harmattan season.
“We want the Federal Government and governments of cocoa producing states to provide hybrid cocoa seedlings to farmers free of charge to give necessary fillip to cocoa production in Nigeria,” he said.
Oladipupo said that cocoa farming in the recent time required irrigation because of the shortfall in rainfall.
He said that government should provide the needed assistance to farmers if the government was serious about the diversification of the economy through agriculture.
The Osun farmers’ chief said that more youths should be encouraged to go into cocoa farming through the introduction of modern method and provision of hybrid cocoa seedlings.
“We run our operations by ourselves with little or no government assistance. Though, some Non Governmental Organisations are assisting farmers with chemicals.
“We don’t have money to operate effectively, we need government’s assistance,” he said.