By Zika Bobby
AS part of their contribution to expanding and improving cocoa production in Nigeria, the Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND) and Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), havr onboarded and certified 14 cocoa seed nursery operators at CRIN’s headquarters in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
PIND’s Advocacy Manager, Chuks Ofulue, who represented the Executive Director, Tunji Idowu, at the certification event, emphasised the importance of the partnership and its significance to the cocoa sector.
“PIND found many missed opportunities within the cocoa value chain. So, we began partnering with the sector’s actors and CRIN to address some of the challenges,” Ofule said
PIND and CRIN formed a partnership in 2021 to strengthen the market system for producing and distributing quality seeds in the cocoa sector and improve access to improved seedlings for cocoa farmers in the Niger Delta region. One major part of the partnership activities included the selection and training of seed nursery operators on best nursery management practices. Following the training, PIND supported 14 seed entrepreneurs to establish seed nurseries and produce over 100,000 seedlings supplied commercially to farmers across the region.
PIND also provided routine monitoring and mentoring support to these seed nursery operators and, in collaboration with CRIN, conducted a joint monitoring/evaluation of them earlier this year to review their performance. The nursery operators were also assessed for certification and licensing as third-party seedling producers and distributors.
During the event, CRIN’s Executive Director, Dr. Patrick Adebola, said the Institute was happy to partner with PIND as it believed it was a partnership that would yield positive results.
“We partnered with PIND to train the nursery operators because we believe that if we have a request for seedlings that we cannot meet, we can easily direct farmers to the certified nursery operators to fill in the gaps. Apart from servicing the farmers within their locality, the nursery operators can also serve as contractors to CRIN.”
Director of CRIN’s Cocoa Program, Dr. Abiodun Adedeji, compared the success of the PIND/CRIN partnership with a similar program the Institute ran between 2015 and 2019. The Institute produced and distributed 601,000 cocoa pods to farmers only to find out that fewer than 10% of those pods were converted to seedlings for expanding cocoa production in Nigeria.
‘If we had gotten this kind of platform (trained and certified nursery operators), we would have worked with this team to produce seedlings and distribute them to real cocoa farmers who would have yielded a better result.”
The certified nursery operators, selected from Abia, Cross River, Edo, and Ondo, expressed their happiness on being part of the maiden edition of the cocoa seed entrepreneurship program and pledged to abide by the standards and protocols laid down by CRIN.