The Ondo State Government said on Friday that it was set to boost agriculture in the state with the procurement of no fewer than 20 tractors before end of August.
Mr Adegboyega Adefarati, Commissioner for Agriculture, made this known during the distribution of 170,000 free cocoa seedlings to farmers in Owo and Ose Local Government Areas of the state.
“Today, the 170,000 Cocoa seedlings are part of the 250,000 we are distributing free to farmers across three senatorial districts of the state for 2019 farming season.
“This is the last batch of free distribution for this year’s farming season but we are going to buy 20 tractors to enhance farming production and for the betterment of our farmers in the state.
“Everything is set now to procure the tractors and it is going to be commissioned by the end of August, while any farmer that needs the tractor will be given at the lowest rate for hiring.
“With the procurement, it will enable individual or group farmers especially those intending to delve into mechanised farming to increase their production in the state,’’ Adefarati said.
According to him, aside from the tractors, the government has also concluded plans to get about 1,000 tonnes of fertiliser at a subsidised rate and 60km of farm roads have been awarded for construction across the state.
The commissioner said that 500,000 cocoa seedlings would be distributed across the state in the 2020 farming season.
Adefarati said that the gesture was part of Gov. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu’s commitment and efforts geared toward revamping and rehabilitation of old Cocoa farms already going into extinction and for the establishment of new farms.
“As we all know, Ondo State is number one Cocoa-producing state in Nigeria and we need to double our efforts by taking more proactive measures to sustain this leadership position.
“I am appealing to our young ones to make use of this advantage and start investing in cocoa farming and other agriculture because farming has become a lucrative job in the country,’’ he said.
One of the beneficiaries, Oba Babatunde Adeniran of the Imeri Kingdom in Ose Local Government Area and a farmer, appreciated the state government for the gesture and promised to make use of cocoa seedlings as expected.
Adeniran called on the government to bring more social amenities to rural areas in order to encourage young farmers to participate in farming.
According to the monarch, farmers in both Owo and Ose Local Governments are ready to collaborate with the government to find lasting solutions to herdsmen and farmers’ clashes in the state.
Mr Michael Ojo, Chairman, Sunshine Cocoa, Owo Local Government Area chapter, urged the government to supply farm inputs and chemicals to farmers at subsidised rates.
“We are happy about what government is doing today but we are appealing to them that they should help us with tractors and help us grade our farm roads.
“Chemicals, farm inputs with the soft loan should not be left out. If all these are available, I believe that many people especially our youths will take farming as a job,’’ Ojo said.