Kwara State governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, has said his administration has raised 50,000 improved cocoa seedlings for farmers at affordable prices once they mature in the next 18 months.

“This is being done with a view to ensuring the prompt and effective rehabilitation of the aged cocoa plantations or farms existing in the state,” Governor AbdulRazaq disclosed at a recent cocoa farmers’ roundtable at Cocoa House, Oke Onigbin, in Isin Local Government Area of the state.

The state Commissioner for Agricultural and Rural Development, Mrs Adenike Afolabi-Oshatimehin, representing AbdulRazaq, said the government would establish a cocoa nursery in the state to serve as the genuine source of planting materials for the farmers.

“In this fiscal year, we plan to resuscitate the training and retraining of cocoa farmers on good agricultural practices through the Farmers Field School (FFS) and Farmers Business School (FBS) respectively. This is being done with a view to enhancing the quality of the cocoa beans being produced in the state.

“In addition, we also intend to look into prospects of being able to possibly address extant challenges associated with some of the critical input requirements of cocoa farmers in the state.”

The governor explained that the present administration understands that lack of basic physical infrastructure and incentives could constitute disincentives to farming in agrarian communities in the state, saying, “It is for this reason and more that we are committing significant resources to road construction, healthcare, water and basic education in the 2020 budget, which has just been passed and assented to.”

He claimed that “agriculture occupies a vantage position under this administration. We have invested a lot of money to reposition the sector, beginning with the N200 million counterpart fund for RAAMP III and another N49.78 million FADAMA counterpart fund, among others.

“We have also made appreciable budgetary provisions for agriculture this year, while also engaging the Federal Government and private investors on how to grow the sector in the state.”He assured the farmers that the administration remains committed to rebuilding and reconstructing the state for the good of all and for the benefit of children yet unborn.

“Since we came on board, our administration has given so much attention to cocoa because of its extensive value chain — just as we are doing with sugarcane and other essential crops and agricultural produce that can be successfully cultivated in the State,” he said.

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