The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, Tuesday, assured that documents on cocoa industry will boost farmers’ productivity as they are comprehensive to tackle various challenges.
Abubakar stated this during presentation on ‘Cocoa Production Update’ by Coco-soils in his office by Director, Federal Department of Agricultural Extension, Engr Frank Kudla, while the Focal Person for Nigeria on Cocoa-soils, Dr Moses Ogunlade, handed over the two documents to him.
He said the document will go a long way to galvanize the cocoa industry in terms of extension services, production, processing and export.
According to him, in the past Nigeria has not got it right in cocoa production, but expressed optimism that through the production of the manual a lot of things will happen for the better.
He also commended the partners who did the research and to come up with the document, and for taking their time to put together the document for the trainers to train the farmers.
He said: “Without research their will be no innovation and it will cause stagnation where we are.
“A lot has gone on into the production of this manual is as a result of articulated research by experts, meaning they have gone under over and above to find out why is cocoa production not at the utmost best here, and I am sure they have found out and now knowing on that removing all the bubbles.
“Naturally you will have increased in yield, you will have reduction in post harvest, you will have reduction even you will have improved seeds, everything that you can think of because it’s in the manual, and is the research that brought about finding out all these things.
“And once that is done, I can assure you an increase in yield even in the ease of production plant in maintenance, and production.”
He also stated that the document has made known how to surmount problems associated with exporting agro products.
“It has brought out things that are causing hindrance in becoming even better than what we used to be. So with this, we will know how to avoid the pitfalls. This must have been discovered during this period of research so that we can avoid those hindrances and be just as good as any other country.
“In fact, Nigeria should be the best cocoa producing country in the world. I think now it is time for us to even start not just exporting the raw cocoa but the cocoa powder so that it will increase the value chain, income for the farmers and producers of cocoa.”
Meanwhile, the Director, Federal Department of Agricultural Extension, Engr Frank Kudla, in his presentation explained that, “Coco-soils project is a 5-year programme that is funded by the Norwegian Government through NORAD.
“The project is aimed delivering improved soil fertility management recommendations to cocoa farmers in Nigeria, Cameroun, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. This is in addition to develop specific fertilizer for cocoa and the establishment of cocoa plantation beginning from a flat land which is non-forest area.
“The implementation of the project is led by IDH-The Sustainable Trade Initiative, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA, and Wageningen University, Netherlands in collaboration with National Cocoa Research Institute in the target countries of Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroun, and Cote d’ Ivoire.”
Also, the Focal Person for Nigeria on Cocoa-soils, Dr Moses Ogunlade, Focal Person for Nigeria on Cocoa-soils, while handing over the training manual to the Minister, said the document is a training manual for the extension agents to digest and then train cocoa farmers on best practices in cocoa production.
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