By: Ozioma Teddy Ukwuoma
……..Says Imo Deputy Governor and world renowned Agricultural expert, Prof. Placid Njoku..
The State Deputy Governor, Prof. Placid Njoku has called for local processing of Cocoa products in the state.
The deputy governor made the call when a delegation of Cocoa Association of Nigeria, Imo State chapter called on him at the Government House, Owerri.
Prof. Njoku described Cocoa as one of the most strategic and valuable crops in the country while Nigeria is one of the producers of the best varieties of Cocoa across the world.
He encouraged Cocoa farmers in the state and the South East in general to increase Cocoa production in the zone and urged members of the association to look into the issue of offtakers of the product as this he said is one of the challenges affecting Cocoa farming.
The deputy governor also advised members of the association to monitor Cocoa farmers in ensuring proper processing and production of quality Cocoa devoid of infection and expressed optimism that in no distant time, Cocoa produced in the state would contribute to international bulk of Cocoa used in producing Cocoa products.
The Leader of the delegation and the State Chairman of the Association, Mr. Innocent Dike informed the deputy governor that the association has trained about three hundred Imo people on Cocoa value chain with a view to transferring knowledge on modern Cocoa Farmington as well as increasing production.
He itemized the economic benefits of Cocoa production and urged the State government to sponsor the training of three thousand youths in Cocoa value chain just as he solicited government’s support in the provision of tractor for mechanized Cocoa farming, improved seedlings as well as enact a law against smuggling and illegal Cocoa trading in the state.