Ooni of Ife partners with IITA to improve cocoa production and youth employment
The Ooni (King) of Ife, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, has extolled IITA for its continuous efforts in the improvement and transformation of agriculture, and emphasized his utmost goal to partner with IITA in rejuvenating Africa’s agriculture.
The Imperial Majesty made this known in his speech during his first coronation anniversary at his palace in Ile-Ife, Osun State on 10 December. The coronation anniversary was attended by some IITA staff and also attracted notable Nigerian dignitaries including IITA Ambassador and former president of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, and the playwright, Professor Wole Soyinka.
The IITA representatives in attendance, Ranjana Bhattacharjee, IITA Molecular Geneticist and Frederick Schreurs, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Business Incubation Platform (BIP), used the medium to seek partnership with Ooni Ogunwusi in enhancing cocoa production, and also make a case for the importance of establishing 12 Agro-Industrial Parks at Ile-Ife so as to engage the youth in agriculture.
“The situation of graduate unemployment is worsening by the year as universities are producing more graduates year after year, and the economy is not creating enough jobs to engage these youths. IITA is on course to empower about 6,000 youth to start their agribusinesses and earn N2.5 million annually, we want to work together with you to make this happen,” Schreurs mentioned, while giving the financial implication of establishing the Agro-Industrial Parks.
The proposal submitted to the Ooni “Intensification of cocoa farming in Southwestern Nigeria” by IITA in collaboration with the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), is targeted at the rehabilitation of old farms, adoption of improved agronomic practices, and increased use of high quality planting materials of improved varieties, all in a bid to develop a more profitable cocoa production system in the Southwest of Nigeria.
The concept note received affirmative feedback, as Oba Ogunwusi assured the IITA team of working hand-in-hand with them to boost agriculture and encourage youth emancipation from unemployment. He stated: “Thank you for coming, thank you also for giving a stand to agriculture. I am impressed at your work. I have seen your proposal, it is perfect, and I have submitted to the government. We will work together as a team, we will launch the Agricultural reality show by next year in which IITA will play a major role, and it will bring the young people to the market.”
The IITA team appreciated the traditional monarch, and Bhattacharjee expressed: “I am glad you liked the proposal and submitted it to the government. There is a sudden increase in the demand for cocoa planting materials. As we get enquiries from people, it is paramount that the supply meets the reality of the demand. I would like to thank you for inviting IITA to this prestigious grand celebration and congratulations on your one year anniversary. We look forward to continue the partnership and have another grand celebration next year”.