NIGERIA - Osun state government has unfolded plans to focus on research and development of cocoa and other agricultural produce, to assist farmers increase internally generated revenue from the planned grading of cocoa by commodity board to be established by the state.
The state governor, Rauf Aregbesola, said his administration is leveraging on cocoa as good source of earning, to enable the state tackle the economic challenges currently facing all states in the federation.
He said there was need to put the state on strong foundation in cocoa production, the development which he noted, will lead the state to enumerate about 60 million active cocoa trees capable of yielding ‘’cocoa omoluabi’’’ in commercial quantity.
Aregbesola, while meeting with cocoa produce merchants in the state at the Government House Banquet in Osogbo, stated that with new cocoa development initiatives in the state, there will be a new cash inflow making the economy of the state prosperous.
He stated that the state has also gone further in its bid to boost cocoa production and agriculture with the signing of Memorandum of understanding with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) on the development of agriculture and production of massive food production as alternative to reliance on oil sector.
The agreement, according to Aregbesola, would involves release of 204.39 hectares of land in Ago Owu Farm Settlement to IITA for the purpose of conducting research and setting up demonstration farms for best farming practices.
IITA will also carry out cassava, plantain and other crops multiplication, including cocoa, as well as train youths in the state in modern, commercial and profitable farming.
Aregbesola emphasised that the state, in its bid to increase internally generated revenue in Osun, government will establish commodity board that will be supervised directly by the office of the governor to ensure that Osun ranks among the best cocoa producers in Nigeria within the next two years.
He told the produce merchants that the economic situation of the state has been affected with the pillaging of the national treasury by the previous administration.
He added that the situation with the drop in oil prices and the sharp reduction in the Federation Accounts from N1.2 trillion in 2012 to N369 billion in November allocations shared in December 2015 has reduced the running of government to little or nothing hence the need to look inward to increase revenue.