The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar has assured of the Ministry’s readiness to support the members of Cocoa and Plantain Farmers Association of Nigeria (CPFAN) to boost the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) of the economy in the area of employment creation, food sufficiency, increase earnings for smallholder farmers as well as income generation.
The Minister made this pledge when he received in audience, the delegation of the Cocoa and Plantain Farmers Association of Nigeria led by its National President, Chief Ayodele Ojo, who paid him a courtesy visit, recently, in his office, in Abuja.
Dr. Mohammad Abubakar stated that the agro-industry is experiencing revitalization with dedicated Federal Government policies towards encouraging smallholder’s farmers and investors as well as grow the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He pointed out that the Cocoa sub sector contribute to the GDP of Nigeria and should not be toyed with, and as such must be fully harnessed to ensure that the agricultural base is established.
Earlier, the National President, CPFAN, Chief Ayodele Ojo commended the Ministry’s giant strides in empowering the grassroots farmers and the overall development of the agricultural sector.
He said that the Nation is blessed with Natural Resources and vast Agricultural potentials, yet the resources are not optimally put to use and this has made the Country to produce far below agricultural capacity.
According to him, Cocoa and Plantain from historic perspective had been a major contributors to Nigerian economy before the discovery of oil in the early 1960s.
“Great feats were achieved under the leadership of Chief Obafemi Awolowo as the premier of the Western Region. Some of the then achievements were construction of 26 story Cocoa House in Ibadan, Liberty Stadium, amongst others”.
The National President informed that it was disheartening that Crude oil discovery led to the total neglect of the agricultural sector and decadence in the existing infrastructure and sustained lean budgetary provisions for agriculture development had made the enterprise to be backward, he added.
He, however, pointed out that CPFAN was willing to be part of the solution to the many challenges being faced by agriculture in Nigeria by creating an enabling environment for all actors along the Cocoa and Plantain value chains to work together, complement each other and bring remarkable improvement in the sub sector.
He further suggested that the Association solicit help from all relevant government agencies, philanthropists, stakeholders and well-meaning Nigerians to rally round and provide the needed support.
The President implored the Ministry to incorporate Plantain commodity into Anchor Borrowers Scheme and seek agricultural inputs such as agro- chemicals, improved varieties of cocoa and plantain for planting and any other necessary agro inputs.