Sucden-Olakoko School Quiz: Regulate Cocoa price —Experts tell FG

By: Ade Adeleke

Cocoa farmers have called on the Federal and State governments to come up with robust Strategies to regulate price of the commodity.

They made the call at Isarun in Ifedore local government area of Ondo state during the grand finale of the School Children Quiz Competition And Award Presentation to Cocoa farmers organised by SUCDEN-OLAKOKO Project.

Speaking at the event organised for some selected secondary schools from Osun, Edo, Ogun and Ondo states, the Olakoko Project Manager, Mrs Mopelola Fabunmi explained that the event was part of efforts to motivate cocoa farmers with education support for their children.

Mrs Fabunmi who lamented negative impacts of last year’s COVID-19 lockdown on cocoa production in Nigeria advised all levels of governments to regulate the price of the cash crops in the interest of farmers and investors.

Fabunmi opined that, “The Olakoko Project ensures focus on these pillars not downgrading on any. We work relentlessly to ensure that the farmers are thoroughly trained on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and that the necessary information are taken and well documented.

“We also train and encourage our farmers to diversify so as to have something to lean on during the cocoa offseason. Our training pack for the farmers also include nutrition and health benefit of food which will avail our farmers to know the type of food to eat at a particular period and type of food necessary for a certain age group.

“Olakoko Project is not only all about increasing cocoa productivity but is also interested in the total wellbeing of our farmers and families as well as being committed to assist the farmers to eradicate or reduce to the barest minimum the issue of child labour in our great country, Nigeria.

“We try in our own little way to ensure the achievement of the eight (8) Millennium Sustainable Development Goals (MSDGs) which was adopted by Nigeria in 2015. We have been able to contribute our little quota in supporting the communities we are working through improving health care awareness, women empowerment and education (Back-to-school), which is the number 2 of the MSDG which says; “Achieve Universal Basic Education” and talks about ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunity for all”.

“Sucden-Olakoko have come to encourage learning again. About a month ago, the race started at the community/area level and today we are here to witness the grand finale. This program has helped to both encourage and enlightened the children in taking part in competitions.

“Usually, Sucden-Olakoko has formed the habit of celebrating the farmers who sell cocoa to us annually but due the outbreak of the Corona Virus last year which forbids huge gathering, we were not able to hold the ceremony but that did not deter us in fulfilling our promises to the farmers and at the right time.

“Today, as part of the highlights, awards will also be given to the best buyer, (male and female categories), best female farmers (as a way to encourage the females in agriculture) and best Lead farmers in the four areas/states. This will not also stop us from appreciating the farmers who sold cocoa to us during the last season.

“I also want to use this medium to announce to the farmers that the premium accrued to each one of them will be given to them as we have told them at the beginning of the season.

“As we are getting ready to go into another season and as it is our custom, we will not promise what we are not able to fulfil, neither will we change our agreement midway. What we promise, we will be able to deliver, because we are not a “promise and fail party”. The farmers therefore need to fulfil their own part of the bargain and this will help to sustain the good work which Sucden Olakoko has started,” Fabunmi said.

Also speaking, a cocoa farmer and Procurement Manager of Olakoko project, Mr Bankole Ojo expressed concern over high cost of labour , deplorable condition of farms roads and enjoined government to invest massively on rural roads to boost production of cocoa and ensure food security.

While commending the efforts of Olakoko project for organizing the Quiz competition and other motivational packages for cocoa farmers, Mr Ojo also urged government to subsidize farm inputs in view of the current economic challenges

In an interview, one of the students who part in the Quiz competition, Opeyemi said the Sucden-Olokoko Quiz competition would go along way in motivating farmers to invest in their children’s education.