The Ekiti State Government says it has concluded arrangements to establish an additional five hectares of Cocoa Clonal Gardens across the state.
The State Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Kehinde Odebunmi, said this at a news conference in Ado-Ekiti.
He said that the gardens would be used to cultivate 70 million improved cocoa seedlings for farmers in the state in the next 10 years.
He said the move was part of the government’s renewed efforts to boost cocoa production in the state.
Odebunmi said that using the current market price of cocoa as an index, cocoa farmers in the state would be able to earn about N18.9 billion within the 10-year period.
He added that the state government was expected to earn about N135 million from cocoa grading and other sundry fees. He said that the new gardens would complement the five-hectare garden that was established last year at Ado, Iye and Eporo Ekiti as well as the old three-hectare plot at Eyio and Ado- Ekiti so as to achieve the set target.
The commissioner said that the focus of the venture was to produce new cocoa hybrids with distinct generic capacity for high yield, in addition to being resistant to pests and diseases.
He said that the first pod production could be achieved within 18 months of seedling establishment.
Odebunmi reiterated the commitment of the Gov. Ayodele Fayose’s administration to promoting food security as well as using the agricultural sector to boost the state’s economy.
He said that government was also determined to reduce its continued dependence on the dwindling income from the Federation Account.
He said that the state government had earmarked N230 million for land bank development in the 2017 Budget, while N45 million was set aside for cocoa farms rehabilitation and N20 million for cocoa seedlings production.
Odebunmi solicited the continued support of all stakeholders in efforts to develop the state.
He said that the government would be able to achieve all its development plans for the state if all the citizens gave it an unflinching support.