Govt to partner Ondo on cocoa production
The Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr Olusegun Awolowo has said that Ondo State is strategic to the Federal Government’s initiative of achieving Zero Oil programme in its bid towards diversifying the nation’s economy.
Awolowo, who led the management team of the NEPC on a courtesy visit to the Ondo State Governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko in his office in Akure yesterday, assured that the council would partner the Ondo State government in a bid to boost cocoa and oil palm production which the State has relative advantage.
The NEPC boss explained that his inspection tour of the Oda Cocoa plantation in the outskirt of Akure, which the Mimiko administration had revamped showed the high level of commitment of the administration towards boosting cocoa production and adding value to the lives of the farmers.
He noted that the nation’s over-dependence on oil and its decline globally has been causing a major set back to the economy of the country, hence the need to maximize other areas of comparative advantage for her survival.
“Ondo State accounts for over 40% of all cocoa export in Nigeria. We are here to exchange ideas with the governor on how to scale up production of cocoa because we need to set a target under our zero oil initiative so that we can meet the international demand of millions of metric tons. Nigeria used to boom in cocoa but now we are producing around 240,000 metric tons, Ivory Coast on 1.7m metric tons and Ghana 750,000 metric tons.
“But when you look at these countries, when you map them, you will see that Nigeria has expanse of arable land more than they have. We are ready to work with Ondo State, which is one of our targets even in the oil palm production”.
Mimiko, commended the initiative of diversifying the nation’s economy, calling on President Mohammad Buhari to spearhead the marketing of Nigeria before the international community.
He assured that his administration would partner the NEPC to boost cocoa production for export and other products which the State has relative advantage.