The Ondo State government has distributed no fewer than 450,000 cocoa seedlings and 25,000 cashew seedlings to different categories of farmers to boost cocoa and cashew production in the state.
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu who flagged off the distribution at the Federal College of Agriculture, Akure, said the initiative was part of the government’s drive to boost the state economy through agriculture and agribusiness.
He added that the programme was also meant to create jobs for youths in the state and allow everyone become economically independent.
Governor Akeredolu hinted that the programme has the blessing of President Muhammadu Buhari and Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who, he said, could have attended the event but for their tight schedule.
The governor revealed that “We have raised a lot of seedlings for the cocoa rebirth and this will soon generate income for farmers and improve the economy of our state as well.
“The seedlings would be distributed to farmers from all the 18 local governments of the state. We have the responsibility of upgrading cocoa production because Ondo State is a suitable land for growing cocoa,” he added.
According to the governor, the programme became necessary because “The cocoa trees are no longer yielding much due to old age.
“But improved seedlings have been grown having short flowering span as well as more prolific.”
Speaking, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Agric and Agricbusiness, Mr. Akin Olotu, disclosed that the distribution of the seedlings was the first step to take the state back to its rightful position in cocoa production in the country and West Africa at large.
He said the seedlings being distributed have 18-24 months flowering span with high yield, adding that the seedlings are also tolerant to high condition.