We try to improve lives of cocoa farmers —Olakoko project manager

The project manager of the Olakoko Sustainability Project, Mrs Mopelola Fabunmi, has said the cardinal point of the project is to improve the lives of cocoa farmers in their host communities, noting that the total wellbeing and welfare of cocoa farmers is integral to ensuring that they produce improved cocoa products.

Mrs. Fabunmi, who made this known while speaking at the 3rd edition of Olakoko Farmers’ Day held at Igbara-Oke, Ondo State, at the weekend and attended by over 2,500 farmers from Ogun, Osun, Ondo and Edo State said: “We train and encourage our farmers to diversify so as to have something to lean on during the cocoa off-season. We have also added nutritional and health benefits of food to our training pack.”

Also present at the event were stakeholders in cocoa production in Nigeria such as the National Cocoa Desk Officer at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Olarinde Olasinbo; Dr. A.O. Famaye, who represented the Executive Director of the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria; the Ondo State Director of Produce, Mr. Francis Adeyemi; Country Manager of SUCDEN Nigeria Limited, Mr. Banji Akinbinu; Mrs Raphaelle Peinado of SUCDEN Paris, Alhaji Hassan Nurain of Starlink Global and Messrs Kwame Osei and Kazeem Sanni of Rainforest Alliance Nigeria.

In her speech, Fabunmi noted that since its commencement in late 2016, the Olakoko Sustainability Project, which she said now operates in 17 local government areas of Ondo, Osun, Ogun and Edo states, have certified over 8,000 farmers on Good Agricultural Practices.

She added that “the project is keen on ensuring that cocoa farmers take good care of their farms in order to get good quality cocoa beans and therefore, the Project links farmers with sources of good crop protection products such as fungicide, insecticide, and herbicides which are approved by authorised bodies such as Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN).”

Fabunmi enumerated the achievements of the project to include rebuilding 4 classrooms at Oke-Osin community in Atakumosa West LGA of Osun state to help children of cocoa farmers get good education in a conducive environment; providing school learning materials to children of cocoa farmers; renovating an abandoned borehole water project in Ifedore LGA of Ondo State, and organising free medical medical checkup for cocoa farmers, assuring that such humanitarian efforts will continue to be held to ensure that cocoa farmers and their families live well.