The last launch of the CocoaSoils program was done in Ibadan, in the Oyo State of Nigeria. The program which was the fourth and last of four in-country launches across West Africa dubbed, “Sustainable intensification of cocoa production through the development and dissemination of Integrated Soil Fertility Management” took place at the Headquarters of the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), on October 16, 2018.

The two-part program was patronized by about 112 scientists, experts and key partners. Partners present included IITA, Contec Global, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), National Co-operative Financing Agency of Nigeria (CFAN), marketers, processors, farmers, local universities, government agencies/ ministries, multi-lateral organizations and other private NGOs.

The program started with a speech by the Director and Chief Executive of CRIN, Dr. Olayiwola Olubamiwa. In his welcome address he reiterated that “history and data confirm that cocoa production would dwindle by 20% by the year 2050 due to aging farmers, land degradation and aged cocoa trees which calls for prompt action”. He craved the indulgence of all present to ensure the efficient management of the program and stressed the need for collaboration for a successful program.

CocoaSoils Program Launch, Nigeria
Dignitaries present at the cocoa soils program launch in Nigeria
CocoaSoils Program Launch, Nigeria
Participants at the CocoaSoils Program Launch in Nigeria

The Project Coordinator, Dr. Richard Asare, then gave a general overview and background of the CocoaSoils Program. In his speech, he stated that increasing cocoa production by increasing farm sizes was not feasible due to the lack of arable land. He therefore reiterated the importance of increasing productivity of cocoa and reducing the land size under cocoa cultivation. His speech was followed by that of Dr. Quadri Lekan, Director of Tree crop unit, who stood in for The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh.

In his speech he stated “that cocoa contributes 30% to the national GDP and employs over 3,000,000 smallholder farmers. However, its fortunes have declined in recent times due to a plethora of problems ranging from production related issues such as old plantations, aging farmers, poor soil management, climate change, poor planting materials, processing, marketing and trade”. He thus commended CRIN and the CocoaSoils Program for their immense contributions to the improvement of cocoa production in Nigeria. The technical session continued with a brief presentation by the Coordinator and a question and answer section. He took participants through the different components
of the project and answered pertinent questions from participants This was followed by a presentation on the P4D component of the CocoaSoils program by the P4D Specialist, Dr. Njankoua Wandji DND. The separate P4D presentation was the first of its kind throughout the launches across the four participating countries and it enabled the participants to appreciate this component in details.
The program ended with the launch of the CocoaSoils program by Dr. Quadri Lekan, Dr. Richard Asare and Dr. Olayiwola Olubamiwa.