The Osun Government says it will provide 250,000 cocoa seedlings for sale to farmers in the 2018 planting season.
Mr Remi Kolajo, Special Adviser to the Governor on Agriculture and Food Security, said this on Thursday in an interview with News men in Osogbo.
“The state government, in the past, had been making cocoa seedling available to farmers in the state at 40-per-cent subsidised rate.
“However, due to the financial challenges which the state is facing at the moment, the state government will not be subsidising cocoa seedlings for farmers this year,’’ he said.
Kolajo, however, said that the government was making other efforts to make cocoa cultivation lucrative for the farmers.
He said that nine cocoa nursery centres, where improved, high-yielding cocoa seedlings were being nurtured for transplants and replacement of old cocoa trees, had been established across the state.
“Osun State, through the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing system for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), had been given the project of producing 4.5 million newly selected, maturing, high-yield and disease-resistant cocoa seedlings for seven years.
“Under the state’s Tree Crop Development Programme, the state government will carry out the project, in collaboration with Development Agenda Western Nigeria (DAWN).
“The project will empower cocoa farmers and youths in the state; as nursery operators will be employed for the 225 new cocoa nursery sites that will be created across the state under the project.
“Cocoa farmers have been at the mercy of middle-men who provide them with funds to operate. Unfortunately, these middlemen dictate cocoa prices for the farmers,’’ he said.
He said through the NIRSAL project, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) would provide funds for cocoa cultivation to farmers, while the state government, through DAWN, would supervise and monitor the operations and production of the farmers.
Kolajo said that the project would improve cocoa production in the state, while empowering farmers and youths.
He added that the state government was always willing to ensure the farmers’ welfare.