Committed to creating a renewed hope for the youths through agricultural revolution which is very significant in his 11-point agenda, the Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi (Ojaja II) has unveiled a nursery plant of one million cocoa pots and trees in the Farmland of Ile-Ife which is just the first phase of the targeted 10 millions first of its kind in Nigeria with a view to creating jobs for the shortlisted 100,000 youths and the thousands of widows who are victims of the settled communal war between Ife and Modakeke some years ago.
Saddened by the unwarranted economically suicidal neglect of cocoa farming which was once a major foreign earning in Nigeria especially in the Southwest, the Arole Oodua, who is the Grand Patron of the Graduate Farmers Association of Nigeria, has imperatively chosen agriculture, cocoa to be specific which now sells for about $3,000 dollars per tonne as a perfect alternative to the dwindling crude oil now selling below $40 dollars per barrel if we must survive the economic quagmire informed by over-reliance on the crude oil lucidly losing its value by the day.
Known for giant strides in the business arena and being passionate about agriculture as a veritable tool for living standard amelioration and wealth creations for the youths, His Imperial Majesty leaves no stone unturned in his embarked scheme of the largest cocoa plantation nursery in Nigeria targeting 10 million trees rolling in one million phases with the youths to get 2000 plants each from the nursery stage.
If we have stronger partnerships/alliances with Government, for it is a very capital intensive venture, it is not impossible to expand the cocoa plantation nursery to well over 100m trees to be spread across the entire country just to bring back cocoa days to this country again. It is pertinent to say that we are not alone in this masses- oriented scheme as we are already into very assuring collaborations.
The Governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has thrown the weight of the State government behind the project that will surely improve the IGR of governments at all levels.
The Federal Government through Minister of Agriculture Chief Audu Ogbeh has given a nod of cooperation for our GREENFIELD to enjoy mechanisation to till the land for us to be able to plant the cash crop, the hybrids and the improved seedlings that will bring out 2000kg to be harvested all year round.
We have Dynamic Green Concept Ltd, a USA based company from Dallas for soil improvement. We are in a strategic partnership with the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN).
Ooni Ogunwusi will also in June visit the Hersey Chocolate factory in Philadelphia , which is the biggest American Chocolate factory. This is for the supply of our cocoa beans and for further value addition to cocoa processing right here in Nigeria before exportation, which will provide further employment to the youths in Nigeria.
Having done our homework to satisfaction, and with some studies on countries like Ghana, Ivory Coast and Indonesia a country earlier with Zero cocoa production but today is the world’s second largest exporter of cocoa that have consistently in the last five decades based their economic sustainability on agriculture. The major way of taking the youths off the streets is to encourage them to go into lucrative farming, and since Cocoa is undoubtedly a cash crop with potentials for foreign exchange earnings, we have thus decided to break the jinx . As we already have plantation Brownfield that has existed for about 100 years on which several farmers have been producing between 300 and 350 kilograms per hectare and of course because those aged cocoa trees have spent about 100years, they are obviously too weak for expected productivity.
We therefore must start a new Greenfield of cocoa plantation with a pilot scheme at Ile-Ife and subsequently replicated this across the country as we already have a very good understanding of alliance with the North sequel to a meeting Ooni Ogunwusi recently held in Sokoto with Sultan Sa’ad Abubakar and 6 Emirs on possible agricultural exchange of expertise.
It will be very great If only Government can support this laudable initiative and we can subsidise farmers from cocoa nursery trees. It will further encourage hundreds of thousands of youths to come into agriculture. From our effort, a lot of youths are already off the street and it has drastically reduced crime rate in Ife currently as confirmed by all the security agencies within our domain.
This can be extended largely to every part of the country going forward.as we plan to spread to other cash crops and food crops most especially massive rice production in Nigeria and we are in close contacts with all the relevant associations to achieve self sufficiency in food production in Nigeria. The objective of His Imperial Majesty is Youth economic emancipation aspect of the entire programme.