Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, Ondo State, is blazing another trail by adding Cocoa farming and exportation to its rich list of curriculum, even as it aims to train a new breed of cocoa farmers and exporters in Ondo State in particular, and Nigeria in general.
Towards this objective, the University has raised 10,000 seedlings which would be turned into a plantation that would also serve as demonstration and training farm with necessary inputs from the Cocoa Transformation in Nigeria group of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, NEPC, Intervention group.
This was disclosed when the University Management hosted a team from the Cocoa Transformation in Nigeria, an intervention arm of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council last week.
The team, which was led by Mr. Rufus Durodoye, also included a former Commissioner for Agriculture in Ondo State and ex-Chairman of the State Cocoa Revolution Project, Dr. Jibayo Oyebade, as well as Mrs. Iyabo Abe of NEPC.
Welcoming the team, the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Prof Olugbenga Ige, who represented the Vice Chancellor, lauded the collaboration between the University and the group. He noted that the synergy is bound to revolutionise cocoa farming and marketing in the state and the country at large.
In his remark, Dr. Oyebade, who spoke on behalf of the team, said the body is proud to associate with the University, noting that AAUA is the first tertiary institution in Nigeria to include cocoa production and exportation in its curriculum.
He said: "We want the University to collaborate with us by establishing a cocoa plantation which will be a training centre for a new breed of educated cocoa farmers, marketers and exporters. We will supply the seedlings, organic fertilisers, and provide the processing centres free of charge. We are only asking the university to give us its wealth of experience and research in this regard."
Also speaking, the Dean of Agriculture, Prof A.B. Aromolaran, explained that the University is looking forward to becoming a major collaborator with the Cocoa Transformation group because the cash crop is a major economic produce of the people of Ondo State.
He added, "We are very confident of achieving success. Right now we have about 10,000 seedlings of cocoa, which we will soon be turning into a plantation."