The Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), in collaboration with the Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND), has organized a mega graduation ceremony for her trained cocoa nursery operators across the country.
The event was held at Prof. Lawrence Opeke Conference Hall of the institute; it featured seminars, admonitions, certification among other things.
In his address, the Executive Director, CRIN, Dr Patrick Olusanmi Adebola, expressed deep sense of delight in the opportunity of partnership with stakeholders to train cocoa farmers across the nation while urging the trainees to appropriate and maximize the training to further achieve the desire of the institute and the federal government.
“This is just the beginning of our partnerships. We are happy to collaborate with PIND; we want to serve our farmers better but we discovered that CRIN would not be able to reach every farmer who produces cocoa in Nigeria, though we have substations. We believe that if we partner other organisations, we would be able to reach the farmers and serve them better.
“I believe that when you get your certificate you will not relax; instead, you will use your knowledge to contribute positively to advancing the planting and trade of cocoa in Nigeria,” he said.
He further added that the government has invested a lot in ensuring that cocoa farming in the country regains its pride of place.
In an interview with CEOAFRICA’s crew after the event, he added that the effort being made is yielding results as Nigeria is on the rise though still trailing behind the likes of Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Indonesia, globally, in cocoa production.
He noted that last year, the institute distributed over 500,000 improved cocoa seedlings, expecting to double the figure before the year runs out; he further stressed that the improved seedlings help to reduce the waiting period of the plant, for fruiting, from five to two years, while urging the youths to see the gold mine in cocoa, which is sold at the rate of over $2,000 per bag.
The Executive Director, PIND, Mr Tunji Idowu, stated that since it was established about eleven years ago, the organization has been committed to its mandate of partnership in the Niger Delta and other parts of the country.
Speaking through Mr Chuks Ofulue, the Advocacy Manager, Mr Idowu enumerated areas of its partnership to include agricultural sector, youth empowerment, among others, adding that cocoa value chain as one of the elements of the agricultural sector, where it partners other organisations, has been driving the entire sector, expressing his delight in what he identifies as first of its kind in the over 50 years of the institute’s establishment.
Director, Cocoa Programme of the institute, Dr Abiodun Rasheed Adedeji, while advising the trained coca nursery operators, noted that Nigeria had lost many opportunities in the past because there was no forum where the institute could have personal link with her trainees whose accountability would be monitored at all times, adding that such trainings have solved such problems.
In his own remarks, the Director, Production and Substation of the institute, Dr Moses Ogunlade, warned them to be ethical in their dealings as the main aim of the entire process is to ensure that the hybrid cocoa pods from the institute get to the farmers and not for self-aggrandizement of the seed entrepreneurs.
Dr Ann Muyiwa, who is the Head, Crop Improvement of the institute, urged the graduands to utilize the opportunity effectively to contribute judiciously to the development of cocoa farming in the country.
While presenting them for certification, the secretary of PIND at CRIN, Dr Festus Olasupo, noted that those were the few found worthy of graduation, out of the many that were trained, asdiscovered by the monitoring team in the course of her assignment.
The speakers also noted that in addition to the trainings meant for the nursery operators, there are also trainings for the farmers, which have been ongoing, as they further commend the vision of the ED, CRIN, Dr Adebola, which is to make Nigeria number one in cocoa farming, globally.
Other members of the team that trained the operators, including Mr Emmanuel Nwala, Chief Adesida, Mr Anthony Agbongiarhuoyi, among others, made their voices heard as they expressed optimism in the future of cocoa farming in Nigeria, as youths were among the graduates.
Some of the cocoa nursery operators who were trained include, Dr Bashir Adeboye Akinola, Chief John Kalu, Mr Ralph Adebayo, MrAiyegbusi Ali, among others; they expressed their deep sense of gratitude for being considered worthy of such honour.
The trained operators came from different states of the federation, where cocoa farming is well-practised including Abia, Edo, Ogun, Oyo, Ondo, Cross River states, among others.