Gov. Rauf Aregbesola of Osun said the state would invest more in cocoa and other agricultural produce to improve its internally-generated revenue profile.
Aregbesola, who stated this at a meeting with cocoa producers in Osogbo on Sunday, said 60 million “active’’ cocoa trees had been identified ‘for the production of “Cocoa Omoluabi’’ in the state.
He said that revenue from cocoa and other produce would help in turning the economy and fortunes of the state around if pursued with vigour.
The governor also disclosed that the state government had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, to boost its cocoa production.
The agreement, according to him, involves releasing of 204.39 hectares of land in Ago Owu Farm Settlement to IITA for the purposes of conducting research and setting up demonstration farms for best farming practices.
He added that a commodity board would be established with the responsibility of ensuring that the state ranked among the best cocoa producers in the country, adding that the board would be directly supervised by his office.
“With this board in place, government will be able to ensure that the quality of cocoa coming out of the state meets international standard.
“When there was free money coming from oil, no government was looking at what cocoa could bring to the economy; we are back to the days where cocoa will be the main stay of our economy in Osun,“ he said.
The governor said that with the drop in price of crude oil and sharp reduction in allocation from the Federation Account, the state had to look inward for improved revenue.
Earlier in his remarks, Chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in Osun, Chief Raheem Adeniji, stated that the association was ready to partner and cooperate with government in its bid to revamp cocoa farming in the state.
Adeniji said that the neglect of cocoa which was the backbone of the economy in the ‘60s and the scrapping of Cocoa Marketing Board by the military government was a setback to the cocoa industry