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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Jonathan Raises Comittee on Cocoa Production

President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday constituted  an  inter-ministerial  committee  on Cocoa production and processing as a way of increasing the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) earnings through cocoa production.
Jonathan said the committee has been given a six-week ultimatum to submit its report to the government for ‘effective’ implementation.

Jonathan disclosed this in Ilorin, Kwara State capital yesterday while delivering a speech at the closing ceremony of the  6th National Cocoa Day Celebration organised for the 14-cocoa producing states in the country held at the ultra modern  Metropolitan  Township Square, located along Asa Dam Road, Ilorin.

According to him, “the committee should comprise the ministry of finance, ministry of agriculture and rural development, the Central Bank of Nigeria, and the Nigeria Export Promotion Council, among others”.

Represented by the Vice President, Mr. Namadi Sambo,   Jonathan said  facilities that would assist the farmers in cocoa production would be provided for them  so that they would take it with all the seriousness it deserved.

He said ‘’I am   convinced that  with proper management  cocoa will  contribute immensely to national  GDP , and gradually we will be able to move from a mono-economic nation  to a diverse one through cocoa production’’.

Jonathan added that,   all the states that produce cocoa should try as much as possible to be able to move from a mono cocoa producing state to major ones for better development.

He explained that with the new breed of cocoa seedlings available in the country which has a very quick gestation period and high yield, cocoa producers would be  getting good money  for themselves and the country.

He noted ‘’About 70%  of our people   are  small scale farmers   but if agriculture is well harnessed and backed up with well actualised government policies,  the farmers will be assisted greatly’’.

Jonathan   pointed out further that , the  federal government has already  approved N1billion  loan  that is  expected to cover the cocoa farmers;  adding that government is also  bringing hybrid seedlings  and other farm inputs which would be sold to the farmers at a subsidised rate so that   cocoa production will regain  its lost glory in the country.

He however called on the government at all levels to be proactive in the development of agriculture saying that such move would assist the nation to be out of poverty and thereby create employment opportunities for all the young ones .

In his address the Minister  of Agriculture and Rural Development,  Professor Ahmed  Abdullahi,   said the theme of the 6th national cocoa day which is ‘’Quality Cocoa  for national development was well chosen to reflect the importance Nigeria attached to cocoa production.

He said Nigeria  is about the 4th  among the cocoa producing  countries  and that agriculture is contributing about 30% of the country’s  source of revenue .

He assured the cocoa farmers in the country that  government was determined to assist and support them in their quest to develop the country through agriculture .

Earlier in his welcome address, the Kwara State  Governor, Dr. Bukola Saraki  commended  the federal government for  supporting the programme and for chosing Ilorin as the hosting place for assessing cocoa for national development .

He however  said that  with the three-day programme,  the glory of cocoa production is being re-kindled   for better development of the agricultural sector.

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