Nigeria’s South West State’s Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo state seeks to partner the African Development Bank, (AFDB) to accelerate the development of cocoa production in the state, made the remarks while addressing the management of the bank in his office in Akure recently.
The governor said that the state needed interventions in some critical sectors to enable it make direct impacts in the lives and well-being of the citizenry. He appealed to the AFDB for assistance to resuscitate the abundant agricultural potentials of the state which, he said made it the leader in cocoa production in the country.
While highlighting the agricultural potentials of the state, Governor Akeredolu stated that the cocoa production capacity of the state has informed the forthcoming visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to Ondo in July to flag-off the Cocoa Revolution Initiative of the Federal Government.
“The President will be here in July for the Cocoa Revolution Project, during which seedlings will be distributed to cocoa farmers. The cocoa revolution in the country starts with Ondo state,” the governor said.
“We already have a lot of seedlings for which we have cleared several hectares of land. As we speak, we have about 24,000 hectares of land ready for this,” he further said.
The governor regretted that Nigeria had fallen short of its cocoa production capacity, thereby allowing countries like Ghana and Ivory Coast overtake the country in the production of cocoa.
Akeredolu also pleaded with the AFDB to assist the state to complete other projects, including water, electricity and entrepreneurship.
Earlier, the leader of the team, Ebrima Faal, senior director of AFDB, acknowledged the visit of Governor Akeredolu to the country field office in Abuja last year and explained that the team was in the state to engage officials of government in order to see completed and ongoing projects for areas of effective collaboration.
“We need to see projects that we can talk about in clear terms, projects to be passed and developed within the Medium Term and Longer Term Frameworks.
“Gender and Vocational Training are some areas that the bank put a lot of investments on because an investment in human capital for us is key and investment in our gender program is actually quite substantial,” he said.