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Eti-Oni holds Cocoa festival to mark 121 years of cocoa production

By The Nigerian Voice
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The Eti-Oni Development Group on Monday declared that necessary arrangements have been put in place for the 2017 Cocoa festival to celebrate the 121 years of continued production of cocoa in Eti-Oni.

The Oloni of Eti-Oni, Oba Dokun Thompson disclosed this while addressing a press conference on the 2017 cocoa festival at the conference room of the Ministry of Agriculture in Osogbo, the state capital.

Oba Dokun Thompson said the theme of this year edition of the cocoa festival is “Royal Origins and Traditions of Cocoa for Sustainability” and that the festival will hold between Sunday, November 26th and Sunday 3rd of December 2017.

The monarch said the Cocoa Festival which is an initiative of the Eti-Oni Development Group is an authentic celebration of the cultural heritage of Eti-Oni.

The Director General of the Office of the Economic Development in the Office of Osun State Governor, Dr Charles Diji Akinola said the current administration in Osun State has invested heavily on agriculture and the agric policies of the state government have achieved huge success.

Oba Thompson said the main objective of Eti-Oni Development Group is to transform the rural community of Eti-Oni into a sustainable model smart town in line with the UN 2030 SDGs and that the idea is to employ a live-in lab concept while developing an economic model to fund the development plans and at the same time achieve sustainability.

According to him, “by the United Nations projections, Nigeria is poised to be the third most populous country in the world (after China and India). It is estimated that by 2050, the Nigerian population will be about 397 million people.”

“This simply tells us that there is an urgent need to creatively design new ways of doing things to accommodate this rising population which has the existing infrastructure already suffering under it and the good news is that we have the rural areas that can be built for the main purpose of stopping the rural to urban migration.”

“The Cocoa Festival has been set up in a manner to offer education in history and how to strategically utilize its several resources and attributes through tourism for instance as a by-product of agriculture draw attention to ourselves and also let the world know Nigeria is ready for investments in Cocoa and Agriculture development.”

“This is a 20year development plan with short, medium and long term goals and this will create several investment opportunities for entrepreneurs to partner with us in the areas of value-add to agriculture, social housing development, renewable energy implementation and provision of general infrastructure for excellent social services delivery.”

“There will also be opportunities in the areas of education, retail and hospitality businesses as well as fintech development to grasp what is on offer in today’s digital world. The Eti-Oni Development Group has already received a lot of interests and we are evaluating the propositions to see which will not only suit our objectives but address our cultural and ethical concerns.”

Oba Thompson commended the state governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola for promoting agriculture particularly by encouraging farming and motivating farmers. The monarch charged the governor to do more.

“Today, we see a lot of encouragement of investments in Agriculture development with increased production capacity as there is a lot of emphasis on backward integration but the government needs to do more in the area of forward integration as this will always create more jobs that are steady. These usually require heavy capital outlay and if interest rates are reduced, then we know the country will be on her path to industrialization.”

“The government also needs to properly engage the stakeholders to work out how to achieve globally acceptable quality and standards as this will help safeguard our produce and ensure our products can effectively compete in the international market”, he said.

Speaking on the event lined up for the 2017 Cocoa Festival, Oba Thompson said the festival will commence on Sunday 26 November 2017 with the Harvest Service at All Saints Anglican Church Eti-Oni after which deserving sons and daughters of Eti-Oni will be honoured and installed with titles in a unique and colourful style.

“Monday 27 November will host the Farmers Business School where farmers are taught about the basics of entrepreneurship, book keeping, the ethics of successful businesses with good understanding of available micro credits and how to be prudent. It is done in a fun environment.”

“On Tuesday 28 November, it will be the turn of the Farmers Field School. This is the practical aspect on the farm with the farmers taught and shown through real life experiences. These two days of training is brought to us through collaborative efforts led by the team of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Produce Board of the State of Osun. The training sessions are free and farmers across the state or from anywhere are encouraged to be part of it.”

“Wednesday 29 November is dedicated to the family. While the children are having their arts and craft day with the teaching of the benefits of Agriculture and a better understanding of cocoa beyond their knowledge, there will also be the health care campaign. This will be in two folds. The first part will be train the trainer for better health delivery service in rural communities with special focus on mother, child birth and children. The second part will be to carry out a general education on personal health needs as well as do basic health checks for the farmers and their families. We also want to seize this opportunity to let farmers know that it is not just for farmers in Eti-Oni alone but every farmer is welcomed to attend and it is all free.”

“Thursday 30 November will be The Trade Fair which is about Cocoa and any Produce. We are expecting manufacturers and merchants irrespective of size of operations to make efforts to take advantage of this fair as an opportunity to show case their products and an avenue to expanding their market share to reach new clients or customers. We are also encouraging people from everywhere to visit and be part of it. This fair will also offer a market place where people will be able to buy products they will not ordinarily see in their localities. During This Fair, Eti-Oni Development Group will also be sharing a glimpse into the plans of the Model Smart Town.”

“While the Trade fair is going on, there will be a chocolate making workshop for the benefit of those who want to start a new business in adding value to cocoa. Participants will be taught the entire spectrum from cocoa selection all the way to turning their cocoa into chocolate bars. This will be done through live demonstrations that will give the participants hands on experience on the different equipment used for the different stages of the entire process. The class has space for only a limited number of participants and those interested will need to register through instructions from the website ”.

“Friday the 1st of December, 2017 will be the Cocoa Conference where stake holders will come together to speak on and discuss areas that will improve our production capacity to achieve sustainability”, Oba Thomson stated.

The Oloni of Eti-Oni, Oba Dokun Thompson and the Director General of the Office of the Economic Development in the Office of Osun State Governor, Dr Charles Diji Akinola at the press conference.

L-R Osun State Commissioner for Agriculture and Food Security, Mr Emmanuel Kunle Ige, The Oloni of Eti-Oni, Oba Dokun Thompson and the Director General of the Office of the Economic Development in the Office of Osun State Governor, Dr Charles Diji Akinola during the press conference.