The oldest cocoa producing community in Nigeria, Eti-Oni in Atakunmosa East local government area of Osun State has designed developmental goals to modernise the ancient community, better the lives of the cocoa farmers and curtail the mass rural to urban migration.
Speaking at the post Cocoa Festival conference held at the Oloni’s Palace Gureje Square in Eti-Oni, the traditional ruler, Oloni of Eti-Oni, Oba Dokun Thompson said the conference was meant to fashion out the immediate needs to sustain the gains of the 2016 Cocoa festival.
The monarch said necessary steps have been taken to ensure that the long term overall objective of the Eti-Oni Development Group, which is the renaissance of the community’s age long cocoa production, was achieved as a catalyst for the Nation’s agricultural drive as a whole.
Oba Thompson commended Governor Aregbesola for supporting the community during the cocoa festival, particularly in the areas of the training for the cocoa farmers and the grading of the Eti-Oni road.
He also lauded the governor for siting the proposed Farmer’s Field School at the Gureje Cocoa Farms, Eti-Oni and urged the governor to ensure the take-off of the school without delay as cocoa farmers are eager to begin to learn modern technology in cocoa farming to enable them make maximum gain on the cocoa farms.
The Oloni said that the community had identified and set aside suitable area for the seed garden to help with the resuscitation of the ageing farms and cultivation of new ones as part of the drive to boost productivity and increase the annual cocoa output.
He also said that one of his priorities was to ensure Eti-Oni had a very active and thriving Cooperative Society. He noted that the President of the National Cooperatives Financing Agency of Nigeria was invited to the conference to speak to the farmers about the benefit of forming and being part of a cooperative as a body that can work for the collective good of all the farmers in the community and its neighbourhood.
The monarch said Fidelity bank was partnering with the Eti-Oni Development Group on how the community could fully benefit from their expertise in financing and adding value to agricultural projects to achieve the EDG’s vision of building a model smart town.
The President of the National Cooperatives Financing Agency of Nigeria, Bashorun Bola Orolugbagbe while speaking encouraged the farmers to join the cooperatives to reap the benefits of a well-structured process which have proven to be successful in different parts of the world.
The Vicar of All Saints Anglican Church, Eti-Oni, Rev Adebayo commended the Oloni for his developmental initiatives and sought for God’s divine guidance for the monarch as he prayed for abundant blessing on the community.
Those in attendance included the Chief Executive Officer of Eti-Oni Development Group, Ms Adaeze Ekwueme, who gave the vote of thanks and encouraged the farmers to be part of the cooperatives and in her remarks said that if we want to go fast we could go alone but if we want to go far we need to go along with others and this should be the mind-set adopted for the cooperatives, the Senior Special Assistant to Osun State Governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola on Rural Enterprise and Agricultural Programme (O-REAP), Mr Femi Komolafe who represented the Director General of the Office of Economic Development and Partnership, Dr Charlie Akinola.
Others are Mr Isaiah Ndukwe, the Head of Export Desk, Small and Medium Enterprises at Fidelity Bank Plc), Mr Emmanuel Nwalor, the Team Leader of Export Desk of Fidelity Bank Plc, Mr Adeyemi Adebola, South West Team Leader of Fidelity Bank Plc, Bashorun Adebola Orolugbagbe, President of Cooperatives Financing Agency of Nigeria, Mr Yemi Orolugbagbe (CEO of Oroscapital Micro Finance Bank among others. The traditional chiefs in Eti-Oni and cocoa farmers in and around Eti-Oni also attended the conference.