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Monarch urges varsities to add value to farm produce

Monarch urges varsities to add value to farm produce

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Femi Makinde, Osogbo

The Olooni of Eti-Oni, Oba Dokun Thompson, has called on universities and other tertiary institutions to come up with research that can assist in adding value to food and cash crops produced in the country.

The monarch made this call during a lecture at the Faculty of Agriculture, Bowen University, Iwo.

The traditional ruler, who was the guest lecturer at the event, said that large quantities of farm produce in parts of the country were usually allowed to rot away, while smaller quantities were hurriedly consumed or exported as raw materials without any value addition.

Based on the huge waste usually recorded, the monarch said Nigerians should find a way to ensure that raw materials like cocoa, cashew and other crops are processed before being exported or consumed locally.

Oba Thompson, who is also the organiser of the annual Cocoa Festival in Nigeria,   said it would be futile for the country to strive to increase its cocoa production capacity without thinking of adding value to the ones produced in the country.

The king noted that Nigerians and the Federal Government should be concerned about how to add value to the cocoa produced in the country and even in other African countries

He said, “I was once asked my position on our cocoa production and that if it was possible for Nigeria to surpass Ivory Coast or Ghana in yearly output. My response was that if we had the right strategy in place, we should focus on adding value to every tonne of cocoa produced in Nigeria.

“By this act, we will make more money than what Ghana and Ivory Coast make from their raw cocoa beans. Since our population is huge, we can also consume what these countries produce.

“It appears that there is a wrong notion and a misplaced emphasis on export without critically looking at our domestic capacity, demands and needs which probably offer better overall benefits.”

To buttress his argument for value addition, the monarch said that while the prices of raw materials usually decreased, the cost of the finished products had always increased.

He stated that in 2016, the price of a tonne of cocoa was  $3,000 and that, in recent times, the price had come down to $2,000.

Thompson also noted that despite the crash, the price of a bar of chocolate was now more expensive than what it was when the price of the raw cocoa was higher.

“The global cocoa output is about $10,000 annually and West Africa produces about 75 per cent of that, which is about $7.5bn, but the value addition industry which produces  semi finished products, finished products, wholesales outlets and retail, is estimated to turn out about $200bn annually. This is the area where Africans and African countries are not looking at or trying to explore and exploit for the benefits of all,” he said.

The monarch stated that Nigeria needed to explore the opportunities in adding value to cocoa and other crops in order to maximise the benefits in the sector, instead of producing for other countries to reap.

Also, speaking during the Faculty Lecture, a Consultant in Human Capacity Development, Mrs. Mobolade Obileye, advocated youth empowerment as the way out of the present economic crisis in Nigeria.

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