Springboard, a non-governmental organisation and social enterprise is set to establish a factory to commence the manufacturing of cocoa soap and biscuits in Ondo State in addition to its existing chocolate and bread factories.
Lawrence Afere, the founder and CEO of Springboard Farmers’ Co-operative Nigeria, disclosed during the recent inauguration of additional 26 cocoa farmers cooperatives covering about 26 communities in Ondo state with over 1, 000 members.
“We are currently working on how to turn pods from cocoa to world-class bar and liquid soap, and also turn the powders from the cocoa to biscuits and with these the farmers can make more money from their produce because they know that their produce is being used locally,” he said.
“We are starting cocoa soap and biscuits production soon.”
He said the essence of inaugurating the additional 26 cocoa farmers cooperatives was to support the cocoa farmers in their respective communities to boost their productivity, and beans quality and increase additional income sources for the farmers.
“Our vision is to empower small-scale farmers in Nigeria to become prosperous and earn sustainable livelihoods and to help them to benefit much more from the agric value chain.
“We have gotten their certificates from the government and we have registered them with FIRS so that they can start operating their businesses in the cocoa sector,” he said.
According to him, Springboard is a cooperative of small-scale cocoa farmers, noting that they are trained in good agricultural practices and supported with farm inputs, insurance, and pre-finances to impact their livelihood.
“The co-operative buys back 100 percent quality products from all its members at fair prices and they also get premiums for their supply,” he said.
“Currently we have over 5,000 farmers, and our dream by 2030 is to have 50,000 small-scale farmers in our co-operative,” he noted.
“Besides, we are partnering with the Ondo state government soonest to onboard farmers in Ondo State into the carbon credit project. This will benefit farmers and the state at large.”
“Our target on this is to ensure that in the next five years, we grow 5 million trees in Ondo state so that the state will be green and will be able to tap into the opportunities that are available in the Carbon Credit sector. Also, our cocoa farmers will benefit from this project.”
Afere also called on farmers to adopt tree-planting measures to mitigate the impact of climate change.
BusinessDay reports that at the inauguration, farmers were taught how to adopt new farming practices and produce quality cocoa beans to guarantee better income for themselves.
Afere, therefore, appealed to the state and federal governments to work more with cooperatives like Springboard Nigeria to better the life of farmers in the country.
He also advised young people to tap into the various sub-sectors in the agricultural value chain to reduce unemployment as well as boost the country’s food security.
Adebayo Emmanuel Olajide, a cocoa farmer and president of Springboard Farmers Multipurpose Society said; “what we are doing presently is to ensure that this our co-operative society gets to the rural areas. Besides, we have been training our farmers, empowering them and we give agrochemicals to farmers in subsidies.”
“The agrochemicals such as fungicides, insecticides, herbicides, and we also give improved cocoa seedlings to these farmers.”
Also, Odesina Williams, the vice president of Springboard Farmers Multipurpose Society, said the organization had been doing a lot of programmes towards taking the farmers out of poverty in the state.
“We do encourage our farmers on how to diversify their farming methods like planting cucumbers, tomatoes and other vegetables during the cocoa off-season. So we are empowering 26 communities across the three Senatorial Districts of Ondo state. Government should continue empowering farmers and also assist our organisation so that we can continue to do more,” Williams said.
Another cocoa farmer from the Ilado community in Akure North Local Government Area of the state, Benjamin Omoyeni, who appreciated Springboard for what it had been doing so far, therefore, said cocoa farming would move higher if proper attention and care were given to cocoa farmers in the rural areas.
Omoyeni believes that the concerned stakeholders in the country need to support farmers to grow cocoa, as this will positively improve foreign exchange for the country, hence boosting the economy.
She, therefore, promised on behalf of other cocoa farmers in the state that they will continue to prepare their cocoa to meet international standards in the assurance that more of such benefit will come to the communities.