In a bid to boost cocoa production and expand the economic base of the state, the Osun State Government has said it would hold a cocoa festival to serve as further encouragement to farmers.
The State Government is organising the programme in conjunction with the Eti-Oni Community, and some other corporate organisations.
Briefing journalists on the planned festival at the Ministry of Agriculture, Government Secretariat, Osogbo, the Oloni of Eti-Oni, Oba Thompson Adedokun, said the Cocoa Festival, which is an initiative of the Eti-Oni Development Group, was an authentic celebration of the cultural heritage of Eti-Oni.
Oba Adedokun said this year’s celebration is tagged, “The Royal Origins and Traditions of Cocoa for Sustainability,” saying they are celebrating 121 years of continued production of cocoa in Eti-Oni community.
The royal father, who appreciated the Federal Government and Osun in particular in their bid to rejuvenate the economy through agriculture, noted that creating a renaissance in the cocoa industry, and building bridges between production and consumption would boost sustainable development, and also improve the tourism sector in the state.
He encouraged stakeholders to support the government in the area of value adding to agriculture produce, renewable energy, and also an excellent social service delivery, which would boast cocoa production to enable it compete in the international markets.
His said: “There is rapid increase in agriculture development, and stakeholders are needed to support the government in the areas of value added to agriculture, renewable energy which would help to create an excellent social service delivery.”
According to him, such synergy would help create opportunities in the area of education, retail and hospitality business as well as technology development to grasp what is offered in today’s digital world.
Giving an insight into the activities heralding the festival, the traditional ruler said that the week- long programme would begin on Sunday November 26 with the harvest service at the All Saints Anglican Church Eti-Oni, and end on December 2nd with the parade in music, dance, poetry and drama among others.
The Chairman, Osun Produced Board (OPB), Dr Yemi Adegoke, also stressed the need to revitalise cocoa production, which would help boost Nigeria’s economy and create wealth.
Adegoke said cocoa has been the major cash crop used to develop the country, and also boast the economy even before the inception of crude oil in the 1970s, adding that Eti-Oni was the first place in Nigeria where cocoa was first cultivated.
The Chairman of O’ Reap in Osun, Dr. Charles Akinola, urged cocoa partners, famers, and international marketers to support the forthcoming cocoa festival, to encourage cocoa development and the larger agriculture sector.
Akinola however thanked the State for its concern especially to the agricultural sector, while urging it to do more integration by engaging stakeholders to ensure global and quality standard.