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Friday, 16 November 2012 00:00
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Don calls for reliable cocoa statistics

States regarded as cocoa producers have been urged to take accuracy of data seriously.

The Executive Director of Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), Professor Malachy Akoroda, made the plea during the Cocoa Transformation Agenda Implementation Plan in which the 2012 progress report was presented for deliberation and the 2013 implementation plan was designed.

Akoroda wondered how any meaningful cocoa business can be done without statistics as a basis.

He said: “Not every local government in every state will produce cocoa. We have information from Geographic Information System (GIS) telling us the local government areas that can produce cocoa in Nigeria.

“We are told that 22 states are potentially capable and can produce cocoa but 14 states have traditionally been producing. It is not just any fertiliser that is suitable for cocoa soil enrichment,” he stated.

Making clarification on cocoa fertiliser, the professor indicated that the NPK formula is 5-12-17, while Calcium and Magnesium are added at ratio of four to two.
He added: “If nutrient contents are used as basis of calculation, farmers will record gains after use.

You should get this equation right.”
Akoroda praised Ondo State that took an initiative on cocoa statistics, adding that, “without any reliable cocoa statistics, you can’t do anything.”

According to him, “states don’t have to wait for the federal government for everything. Your governments must help cocoa farmers in your states.

He stressed: “What the federal government is doing should be a bonus, after doing your own. If a farmer does not keep record, the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) will not profit him. If tree crop unit officers don’t understand the details of GES, it will be a failure.
“Farmers need to keep record if they want to take cocoa as a business. Once I see a farmer with no record, I don’t discuss further.

There is nothing to discuss,” he said.
According to Akoroda, the Federal Government was working on rehabilitation of cocoa farms and had sent four Nigerians to train in Indonesia on rehabilitation of old cocoa farms.

He further said: “The trainees will in turn train Nigerians on best practices they have learnt. The training will be in CRIN on February 2013.”

He noted there were early fruiting, early maturing varieties of cocoa that could be planted to replace the old, aging cocoa trees.

He queried: “What is the use of eight varieties of cocoa sitting in CRIN without getting to the farmers? After research, there must be development, using the result, otherwise it will be a waste of time.

“States need to transfer the technology to farmers. States without reliable data should go back and get their figures right so we can make preparation to serve the farmers.”
He said emphatically that “any state that does not know the number of people they want to serve is not serious.”

He drew attention to the need to plan for provision of pods and seedlings, stating, however, that, rather than wait for too long, the government officials should “turn (their) pods to seedlings to avoid wastage.”

He also alluded to the use of grafting, for old farms.

The Executive Director of CRIN warned farmers not to buy fake cocoa chemicals, stating that the process of selecting agrochemicals is scientific, rigorous and has standards.

He stated: “Do not let anybody tell you that without a process of science we can go to any manufacturer and tell him that this chemical is good, we want to buy it.”

He stressed that CRIN is mandated to decide on the choice of chemicals.

The professor explained that there are three varieties of improved cocoa seedlings: F1 Amazon, TC 1 – 8, WACRI and all are good depending on agro-ecology.

He said CRIN took a contract to distribute 1,200,000 pods (divided into yearly phases), starting this year with 95,000 pods to be delivered.

He added: “We have a table on how to deliver those pods. We should be working with numbers: when, where, what, who, why, the number of cocoa pods to be given to Mr. Blue Shirt on, so and so date, and so forth.”

He concluded by saying that “CRIN is a government institution. You don’t need permit to come to CRIN. The federal government is ready to pay us when they see evidence of supply.”

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