Ooni’s cocoa farming initiative to fight unemployment

OLUWOLE IGE, in this piece, writes on the efforts of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi at combating unemployment through cocoa farming.

SINCE his coronation in December, 2015, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi has been in the news regarding his agenda for peace across Yorubaland and the nation at large.

For him, peace and security in the country can only be guaranteed if millions of unengaged youths roaming the streets are gainfully employed so that they would cease to be handy tools in the perpetration of heinous crimes.

This line of thought informed his latest move in the unveiling of one million cocoa nursery seedlings, which the monarch plans to use in revamping cocoa industry which was the popular mainstay of the economy of the defunct Western Region. The move is also to create employment opportunities for over 100,000 youths in Ile-Ife and widows affected during the hostility between Ife and Modakeke.

Nigerian Tribune gathered that the newly unveiled one million cocoa seedlings in Ile-Ife farmland is just the first phase of targeted 10 million trees.

Saddened by the neglect of cocoa farming which was once a major foreign earning for Nigeria, the monarch who is the grand patron of Graduate Farmers Association of Nigeria, has chosen agriculture as a perfect alternative to the dwindling crude oil revenue.

According to Oba Ogunwusi, “If we have stronger partnerships with government, because it is a very capital intensive venture, it is not impossible to expand the cocoa plantation nursery to well over 100million trees to be spread across the entire country just to bring back cocoa days to this country again.”

“It is pertinent to say that we are not alone in this masses-oriented scheme as we are already into very assuring collaborations. The governor of Osun State, Mr Rauf Aregbesola has thrown the weight of the state government behind the project that will surely improve the IGR of the government.

“The Federal Government through Minister of Agriculture Chief Audu Ogbe has given a nod of cooperation for our Greenfield to enjoy mechanization to till the land for us to be able to plant the cash crop, the hybrids and the improved seedlings that will yield 2000kg to be harvested all year round. We have Dynamic Green Concept Ltd, a US-based company from Dallas for soil improvement,” Oba Ogunwusi added.

Giving more details on the scheme, the director of media and public affairs to the Ooni of Ife, Comrade Moses Olafare said, “We are in a strategic partnership with the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN). Kabiyesi will also in visit Hersey Chocolate factory in Philadelphia which is America’s biggest chocolate factory for the supply of our cocoa beans and for further value addition to cocoa processing right here in Nigeria before exportation.

“Since cocoa is undoubtedly a cash crop with potentials for foreign exchange earnings, we have thus decided to break the jinx. We already have brown field plantation that has existed for about 100 years and on which several farmers have worked, producing between 300 and 350 kilogrammes per hectare. Of course, those aged cocoa trees have spent about 100 years, and they are obviously too weak for expected productivity.”

Olafare continued, “We therefore must start a new Greenfield of cocoa plantation with a pilot scheme at Ile-Ife that will subsequently be replicated across the country as we already have very good understanding with the North, sequel to a meeting Ooni recently held in Sokoto with Sultan Sa’ad Abubakar and six emirs on possible exchange of agricultural expertise.”