Massive Cocoa Production: Abia Deputy Gov Meets Stakeholders

In an effort to acquaint Cocoa farmers with Government’s policy direction and thrust on Cocoa production, Abia State Deputy Governor, Engr. Ikechukwu Emetu, Tuesday, held a meeting with members of the State Cocoa Transformation Committee and major stakeholders in Cocoa Agro Business at Government House, Umuahia.

Speaking during the meeting, Engr. Emetu who also remind the stakeholders of the importance of Cocoa production in the economy of the State and Nation at large, restated Government’s resolve to turn around the fortune of Cocoa production in the State by ensuring that Cocoa farmers are mobilized and trained to retain it’s rightful position in the country.

Engr. Emetu disclosed that Nigeria is the largest exporter of Cocoa after Ivory Coast the Ghana food security and noted that a Cocoa processing industry will soon be established in the State while the 16 potential Cocoa LGAs in the State will be given necessary support to ensure that Abia farmers are not left behind.

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He stressed that Cocoa farming contributes to the food security by providing income and nutrition to several people as it can be used as organic fertilizers, provision of raw materials for industries as well as serve as a source of foreign exchange and blood pressure sugar control.

The Deputy Governor who lamented that Agbozu Cocoa Estate in Uzuakoli in Bende LGA has been leased out and directed the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture to furnish him with the lease agreement for necessary action.

In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Sir Okey Ihedioha said that, apart from the Cocoa farm at Agbozu, there are other farm producing belts in Ibere, Ikwuano and Itumbuzo in Bende LGA and expressed confidence that with the encouragement and support from Government, the Ministry can bounce back to improve Cocoa production in the State.

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The stakeholders in the Cocoa production also made presentations to the Deputy Governor during the meeting which attracted the presence of top Government Officials.

In their various remarks, Cocoa Desk Officer, Dr Ojo Uma and the Chairman, Abia State Chapter of Cocoa Association of Nigeria, Sir. John Kalu said the State is ranked 8th among Cocoa producing States stressed the need to encourage Cocoa farmers by subsidizing and distributing improved Cocoa seedlings inputs at subsidized rates, commence yearly flag off of Cocoa planting season, training and retraining of farmers, inclusion of Abia in the Nigeria Cocoa Board and noted that Cocoa production has the potential of diversifying the State’s and Nation economy.

Similarly, the representative of Cocoa Institute Of Nigeria, Dr. Olaniyi Olayinka and Mr Aloysius Mba of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture regretted that the only Government owned Cocoa plantation has been leased out, pointing out that Abia has one of the best Cocoa seeds in the country and stressed the need for a functional model to check leakages and assured that the State will not be short changed in getting it’s share from the Federal Government.