Olam Nigeria has called on farmers, corporate bodies and the government at all levels to make more investments in cocoa cultivation, processing and other value chain development.
Cocoa, the company representative said, has what it takes to diversify the economy of the country. More than 14 states are cocoa-producing places. Improved varieties have also made productivity per hectare better. Therefore, the country should take advantage of the agro-forestry zones, the better varieties and human resources to boost cocoa production and by extension, diversify the economy.
The company emphasised good agricultural practices, which include providing improved seedlings and other incentives and well-being of the farmers, saying farm hands should not be neglected for profit margin.
Head, Human Resource of Olam, Mr Aliyu Yahaya, said this on Tuesday at an event organised to mark 2019 International Youth Day.
The programme was in collaboration with Action Health Incorporated (AHI), which lectured the farmers on hand washing, water sanitation, balanced diet and testing of their Blood Pressure (BP), HIV/AIDS status, among others.Yahaya lamented that “in recent times, rural areas are losing a vital part of their workforce as young people migrate to cities or abroad in search of economic opportunities.
“Agriculture remains a significant employer of labour and can contribute to a significant reduction of unemployment among young people in Nigeria. Diversification in agriculture is an important mechanism for economic growth.”He stressed that it was important to encourage young farmers to venture into agriculture and provide incentives that would make it attractive and profitable like other businesses.
Recounting the efforts made by the company in collaboration with the government, he added that the thousands of tonnes of improved seedlings and other incentives given to farmers in the past were yielding positive results.
“Oil is a perishable product. It can go any time. But cocoa and agriculture as a whole will definitely take over from oil in Nigeria and Africa. We need to give agriculture a revolution because there is arable land in Nigeria.
“There are so many agricultural products that will take over from oil when the time comes. This is why we are giving it much attention and not also neglecting the well-being and health of the key players, the youths.”
The Programme Officer, Action Health Inc, Mrs Cynthia Akpunonu, added that young people approximately account for 18 per cent of the global population and over half of them live in rural areas in developing countries, like Nigeria.Therefore, Akpunonu said, “This is why we are commemorating the International Youth Day 2019 with a focus on creating awareness for diversification in cocoa farming by young people for economic growth.”