BusinessDay

Ondo distributes seedlings, inputs to farmers

The Ondo State government has said it would continue to provide enabling environment for agribusiness to thrive, by re-energizing the state’s gallant Amotekun Corps to subdue the security challenges across the farmsteads and communities in the state.

Akin Olotu, the senior special assistant to Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu on agriculture and agribusiness, disclosed this on Sunday at the distribution of one million cocoa seedlings and farm inputs to 150,000 cocoa farmers in Ondo and Osun states through the Johnvents Industries Limited Cocoa Sustainability Programme in Akure.

Expressing the government’s determination towards ensuring cocoa production and the income generated from the produce remains stable and sustained, Olotu, therefore, said the government would make farming a more attractive and lucrative venture for both old and new farmers across the 18 local government areas of the state.

Olotu, therefore, maintained that the seedlings would ensure Ondo state remains the leading cocoa-producing state in Nigeria.

While the group managing director of Johnvents Cocoa Industries Limited, John Alamu described the launch as imperative to the future of cocoa industry in Nigeria.

Alamu said, “In this day and age, sustainable agriculture is more important than ever. Through sustainable agriculture, farmers can produce better crops, fight and adapt to climate change, increase their productivity and achieve better lives for themselves.

“In line 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.

“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.

Read also: Farmers flee farms on worsening insecurity

“Sustainable agriculture is intrinsically linked with the livelihoods of millions of producer and their families, as well as the quality of finished products consumed.

“This is why under Project 150,000 farmers, we seek to create a pathway toward more resilient and inclusive agricultural practices in accordance with 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.

“The programme will achieve the global cocoa traceability goal through a robust, transparent system that tracks products from the farmer along the supply chain up to the level of the retailer.

“We will provide our users with the confidence that our certified cocoa is indeed produced according to sustainable standards. By complying with these standards, we can have a positive impact on the planet, its forests, biodiversity, water, and climate.

“Our sustainability initiative will protect and restore forests and other natural ecosystems by ensuring that we and our key players do not contribute to deforestation, forest degradation, and the destruction of other natural ecosystems.

“As Johnvents strives toward a resilient ecosystem, we will carry our farmers along on agricultural best practices related to sustainable production practices, soil fertility and conservation, integrated pest management, and safe agrochemicals management.

“Already we have put structures in place to ensure that environmental and health risks from pesticides are reduced. One of such is the provision of safe agrochemical inputs on credit for improved management of farmers’ existing farmlands.

“Our sustainability programme is in part empowerment and also a response to global realities of the impediments to selling non-certified cocoa products from 2024 and beyond.

“As a global business in Africa, we have positioned ourselves for the future. Other producing countries in Africa accounting for over 71 percent of RA-certified coca sold to the EU markets are working toward ensuring a sustainable cocoa ecosystem. At this point permit me to say, the job to be done is a collective one.

“As we take the first step, our farmers must also commit to the guidelines, practices, and support provided to ensure the impact areas are met. The role of the government is key to ensuring sustainable agricultural production and responsible supply chains through policy review and implementation as well as an intensive drive to attract greater participation of youths. I acknowledge and appreciate the unwavering support of the Ondo State government in realizing this goal.”

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