The Ondo State governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, has expressed the readiness of his administration to make farming a more attractive and lucrative venture for both old and new farmers in the state.
Akeredolu said he will provide enabling environment for agribusiness to thrive, especially by re-energising the gallant Amotekun Corps to subdue the security challenge in farmsteads and communities.
The governor stated these during the launching of the sustainability and empowerment initiative to empower 150,000 cocoa farmers by Johnvents Industries Limited in Akure, the state capital.
The event was attended by the Deji of Akure, Oba (Dr) Aladetoyinbo Ogunlade Aladelusi; Jegun of Ile Oluji, Oba (Dr.) Julius Adetimehin, and other dignitaries.
At the event, Akeredolu promised that necessary farm inputs would be made available while rehabilitation of farm roads would be given adequate attention.
Represented by his senior special assistant on Agric and Agric-Business, Akin Olotu, the governor assured that his administration shall ensure appropriate pricing and uptake of farm products to enhance the livelihoods of farmers in the state.
“To the lucky participating cocoa farmers, I congratulate you all and enjoin you to please make the best use of what you have learnt and as well inputs you are given to further improve your capacity production.
“I want to again commend the Managing Director of Johnvents Industries Ltd, Mr John Alamu and the entire team for the milestones achieved within this short span. I wish you and indeed all of us a more prosperous agribusiness year.
“I am delighted to be amongst Cocoa Stakeholders today for this all-important occasion of Johnvents One Million Cocoa Seedlings Plantains and Farmers Empowerment Programme with which our cocoa farmers are recognized for their hard work and empowered to do more,” he said.
Earlier, the Managing Director, Johnvents Industries Limited, John Alamu, described the launching as imperative to the future of the cocoa industry in Nigeria.
Alamu said, “In this day and age, sustainable agriculture is more important than ever. It is becoming the soul of our business. Through sustainable agriculture, farmers can produce better crops, fight and adapt to climate change, increase their productivity and achieve better lives for themselves.
“Consistent with the Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Agriculture Standard RA 2020, we are honoured to launch our cocoa sustainability programme which mirrors the thematic goals of the Rainforest Alliance of improving the livelihoods of producers, protecting the rights of farm workers and their families, avoiding the destruction of nature and biodiversity, and mitigating the consequences of climate change.”
According to Alamu, the initiative was both an empowerment tool and a response to the global need for sustainable agriculture.
“This project aims to empower 150,000 farmers covering about 300,000 hectares of farmland in rehabilitation, regeneration and replanting of cocoa trees over the next 5 to 10 years.
“Under this project, we seek to create a pathway toward more resilient and inclusive agricultural practices by the RA 2020.
“The impact areas this programme will focus on include zero tolerance for human rights violations such as child labour, forced labour, discrimination or workplace violence and harassment. It seeks to empower producers and workers to realize better working and living conditions for themselves and their families and protect their human and labour rights,” he stated.