We will continue to partner with CFAN to enhance Cocoa production ,Abia state government Assures

By Steve Unegbu

Abia state government has assured of her readiness to continue to partner with Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN) to enhance Cocoa production in the state while expressed appreciation to the National body of Cocoa Farmers for the distribution of improved Cocoa seedlings and Cocoa GAP Handbook Cocoa farmers in the state

This assurance was given by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu while flagging off 2022 improved Cocoa seedlings at Michael Okpara Auditorium Umuahia with a promised that the state government will do everything possible to ensure the production of Cocoa in large quantity.

Governor Okezie Ikpeazu who was represented by Deputy chief of staff , office of the Deputy Governor, Sir Don Ubani, said he was following the track record of the late Premier of Eastern Nigeria,Dr Michael Okpara who was known for agriculture exploits.

He pointed out that with increase in Cocoa production in Abia State,the agriculture sector can employ most of the youths who are unemployed and urged Cocoa farmers in the state to read and assimilate the free Cocoa GAP Handbook to help them understand the modern system of Cocoa farming.

His words,” Abia State government and CFAN will continue to partner to enhance Cocoa farming in the state.

” Abia state government cherishes the collective efforts of Cocoa farmers in the state and the state government is delighted to have in our amidst the National officers of CFAN for the purpose of flagging off the 2022 improved Cocoa seedlings”
In his speech, the National President of CFAN,Comrade Adeola Adegoke who was represented by the National Secretary of CFAN ,High Chief Ngbeyakleku said,” our collective focus is to increase Nigerian Cocoa productivity and production, quality assurance of our Cocoa bean through the premium Cocoa production, child labour eradication , fighting deforestation through the practicing of Cocoa and forestry initiative, upscale our traceability and certification in our Cocoa supply chain, responsible pesticides application,MRLs reduction and enlightening our Cocoa farmers on nature based solutions and smart Cocoa practices to fight climate change across the Cocoa producing states in Nigeria”

” The launching of the free distribution of Cocoa GAP Handbook across the entire Cocoa producing states and Abia State in particular will mark Nigeria’s path to achieve 100 percent premium Cocoa production with 500,000 MT targets and sustainable practices in the Cocoa supply chain in the year 2024 and the highest Cocoa producer by 2027 . This we have started by providing 12500 seedlings to Abia State Cocoa farmers”

In his contribution,the commissioner for Agriculture Abia State professor Ikechi Mgboji who was represented by the permanent secretary ministry of Agriculture chief Okey Ihedioha said the ministry is set to collaborate with Cocoa Farmers in whatever that is involved to making sure that farmers of Cocoa extraction get the best ,added that the collaboration of the ministry of Agriculture, Abia State government and other major stakeholders will increase production of Cocoa in large quantity will be achieved in the state.

The Cocoa Desk Officer of Abia ministry of Agriculture,Dr Ojo Uma Ojo said the flagging off of the new hybrid of Cocoa shall enable the farmers to stop using and recycling the old Cocoa varieties in their farm, saying the improved Cocoa seedlings have the advantage of high yield and minimal incidence of diseases and pest .

He noted that the state government has taken some positive steps in repositioning Cocoa production in the state and lauded the Governor for his magnanimity in approving the raising and flagging off of improved Cocoa seedlings for the benefit of Abia Cocoa farmers

He listed some of the challenges of Cocoa farming in the state to include the infestation of Cocoa, poor maintenance of the crops when planted , the price of Cocoa chemicals, problem of accessibility to the farms among others

Earlier the State coordinator of CFAN and chairman Cocoa farmers association in Abia State, Sir, John K .Kalu , said the period of the flag off is targeted towards the planting season within May ,June and July which is the major time the soil is soft and can accommodate growth

He said Cocoa produced in Abia State is the best because of its aroma and flavor, added that they have about 12855 Cocoa farmers in Abia State and they are happy because they are going to plant at the right time and appreciate the state government and the National President for the free distribution of improved Cocoa seedlings and Cocoa GAP Handbook to farmers in the state

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