Nigeria to Develop New Cocoa Varieties, Launch Agric Mechanisation
By Dipo Olowookere
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Muhammad Sabo Nanono, has hinted that federal government will develop new cocoa varieties that can yield pods in two and half years.
Business Post gathered from Growing Cocoa that on the average, most cocoa trees yield pods by the fourth or fifth year and can continue for another 30 years. A typical pod contains 30 to 40 beans and there are about 30 pods per tree; approximately 400 dried beans are required to make one pound of cocoa.
But Mr Nanono said Nigeria will come up with new varieties of the cash crop, which can begin to yield after two years and six months.
The Minister, speaking in Ogun State when he visited the state governor, Mr Dapo Abiodun, stated that the Gateway State was paramount in cocoa and rice production and there’s need to revive the cocoa industry in particular.
According to him, “We must develop new cocoa varieties in Nigeria because the new cocoa varieties will yield in two and half years.”
He said the federal government, under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, will commence an Agricultural Mechanisation initiative in the next three to four months.
Mr Nanono explained that, “The programme will be private sector driven and that government would only create the enabling environment and offer assistance where necessary.”
He reiterated that the programme would have service centres across the country, 140 processing centres, and will enhance production, create more jobs and grow the nation’s internally generated revenue.
The Minister stated that Agricultural Mechanisation is the solution towards achieving food sufficiency and job creation in Nigeria, saying the policy is expected to involve a full technology package transfer that will cover all stages, from agricultural production to industrial processing, packaging and marketing.
Governor Abiodun, in his remarks, described Ogun State as the food basket of the nation and also the closest state to the biggest economically viable state, Lagos.
He pointed out that the state has keyed into federal government programmes in the Agriculture sector, informing his guest in Abeokuta, the state capital, that there is massive investment in capacity building especially in extension services, which aims at improving yields in farm products like cassava, maize, cotton, rice, among others.
He further said that the state runs background checks for the extension service workers to ensure accountability and transparency.
The Governor also said that the Minister has depth knowledge of the agriculture sector, emphasising that President Buhari made the right decision to appoint him as Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.