The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Muhammad Nanono, made the disclosure in a statement by Ezeaja Ikemefuna, Chief Information Officer of the ministry in Abuja.
Mr Nanono stated this when the Cocoa Association of Nigeria (CAN) paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja.
According to the minister, it had become imperative for Nigeria to establish its own jute bag industries to meet international best practices for the export of cocoa and sundry agricultural produce which will increase foreign earnings, healthy preservation and certification of the cocoa crop.
Mr Nanono said that the ministry would seek collaboration with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning in ensuring that appropriate policy measures and counterpart funding were put in place.
He noted that cocoa was one of the commodities being promoted by the present administration in its drive to diversify the economy.
”The ministry is eager to support the farmers with the distribution of free agricultural inputs and training to enhance the capacity of cocoa farmers in the country.
”The ministry recently rolled out disease resistant and early yielding seedlings developed by the Cocoa Research Institute, Ibadan which starts yielding within 30 months of cultivation.
”These seedlings with other inputs were distributed to farmers in major cocoa-producing states where 300,000 cartoons of ultimax – plus fungicides, Hydrocarbon jute bags, collapsible driers, cocoa pods and more were shared to enhance the capacity of cocoa farmers,” he said.
The minister assured that the ministry would continue to support and collaborate with the association to boost the cocoa value chain sub-sector towards increasing production, creating more jobs and generating revenue for the country.
In his address, the Permanent Secretary, of the ministry, Dr Ernest Umakhihe, said that the agricultural policy put in place by the present government was poised to build an agribusiness ecosystem that will solve the challenges in the agricultural sector.
He said this would be in partnership with the state governments to achieve food security, export substitution, job creation and economic diversification.
”Cocoa has been one of the major foreign exchange earners in Nigeria apart from crude oil,” Mr Umakhihe said.
In his remarks, the National President of CAN, Alhaji Mufutau Abolarinwa, appealed for the establishment of a special credit guarantee scheme for the cocoa farmers in Nigeria for the development and increase in cocoa production.
He said that grants and subvention from relevant agencies like Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN) and others would enable the association to have access to cocoa pods, inputs and equipment needed for increase in cocoa production in Nigeria.
”The association has successfully organised workshops and seminars in collaboration with CRIN, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the state ministries across the cocoa producing states,” he said.