Abia State government says it has approved N20 million for the purchase of cocoa pesticides, equipment and hydrocarbon jute bags to boost cocoa production.
The commissioner for agriculture in the state, Uzo Azubuike, said this on Tuesday while declaring open a one-day ‘Export Market Meet’ in Umuahia, organised by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Smart Office in Aba.
He said that the items would be distributed to cocoa farmers in the state at 50 per cent subsidised rate “to ensure a bumper and healthy harvest.
“This will definitely present Abia better in the cocoa map of the nation,” said the commissioner, who was represented by Elem Okorie, a director in the ministry.
He said that the state government had begun the “systematic rehabilitation and rejuvenation of moribund agricultural estates,” such as cocoa, oil palm, rubber and cashew, abandoned by past administrations in the state.
Azubuike said Governor Okezie Ikpeazu was committed toward repositioning the cocoa sector in line with national and international market demands through aggressive development of the product.
He said that Abia, which ranked eighth among cocoa producing states in Nigeria, is endowed with good tropical climate and vast land for massive cocoa production.
In his address, Christian Elekwa, the Trade Promotion Advisor, NEPC Smart Office, Aba, said that the workshop was organised to sensitise stakeholders in the cocoa industry on the need to produce high quality products to meet the requisite standard for export.
Elekwa said that the workshop became imperative in order to make cocoa products from Nigeria acceptable in the international market, saying there had been rising concern over the integrity and quality of some raw agricultural and semi-processed products from Nigeria.
He regretted that some countries in Europe and America had either placed outright ban or some restrictions on the importation of Nigerian products.
He said that the workshop would create an opportunity for the council to interact with the stakeholders not only to produce high quality cocoa beans but also progress from exporting raw cocoa beans to processing them for export.
“It will also afford the participants the opportunity to be exposed to good agricultural practices in line with international best practices, ” Elekwa said.
He said that NEPC had stepped up efforts to boost the nation’s export from non-oil sector in line with the Federal Government’s policy on diversification.
“The current dwindling revenue from oil as a result of a fall in the global oil price has placed further responsibilities on NEPC to promote increase in the contribution of non-oil exports to the economy.”