Cocoa farmers in the country require more support in order for them to apply global best practices in their operations. This was the submission of the Project Manager of the Olakoko Sustainability Project, Mrs. Mopelola Fabunmi during the commemoration of Farmers’ Day held at Igbara-Oke, Akure recently.
According to Fabunmi, Nigeria is in a pole position to increase its yield of cocoa and to ensure improved quality of cocoa produce as well as improve the quality of lives of farmers. She said that in over two years of its operation, the Olakoko Project has trained more than 8000 farmers from Edo, Ogun, Osun and Ondo States. “We do not relent in our efforts at ensuring that farmers are thoroughly trained on farm practices and passing necessary information required to improve agricultural yields,” she said.
Among highlights of the Farmers’ Day event was the Farmers’ Market which provided an avenue for farmers to get farm inputs for cocoa and other crops as a means of diversification. While elaborating this, Mrs. Mopelola Fabunmi said “One of the aims of the project is to ensure that farmers take good care of their farms, (fruits and soil) so as to get good quality cocoa beans there. We do this by linking them to sources of good inputs such as fungicide, insecticide, herbicides and so on, which are approved by authorized bodies such as CRIN. We also encourage diversification of other crops during the cocoa off-season. Thus, the essence of the Farmers’ Market is that farmers can have closer interaction with the input and agro dealers and they in turn sell to them at subsidized price.”
With the global campaign against child labour across board, especially among cocoa farmers, she noted that the Olakoko Project continues to advocate for the protection of children and providing them with quality education. According to her, they frown on the use of children in abusive ways that could jeopardize their future. “Children are supposed to be in school at the right time and they could assist their parents on the farm during holidays but not in doing hazardous works.” As part of the event, cocoa farmers’ children also performed a playlet telling their stories themselves.
Mrs Fabunmi informed that the Project, as part of its efforts to encourage educational attainment among the children sponsored quiz competitions among the children of cocoa farmers, out of which three were specially recognised based on their performance and score line. Awards which comprise of school materials such as school bags, scientific calculators, and notebooks were given to the children
Prizes were also distributed to the best lead farmers and best farmers from areas of the Project’s operation. Highest male and female cocoa suppliers were recognized at the function and cash premium was given to all cocoa farmers registered with and that supplied cocoa to the Olakoko project.
Dignitaries from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Cocoa Research Institute (CRIN), among others attended the event. Also, in attendance were project partners from Sucden (Paris and Nigeria) Starlink and Agrilogic.
A total of 2851 farmers from Edo, Osun, Ogun, and Ondo participated in the event.