Prof. Adegboyega Oguntade of the Department of Agriculture and Resource Economic, Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), on Friday advocated for proper land use planning to enhance agricultural production in the country.

Oguntade, who was the keynote speaker at a one-day stakeholder workshop organised by the Rainforest Alliance in Akure, said if the land policy could be effective it would reduce conversion of agricultural land to non- agricultural use.

The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports that Rainforest Alliance is one of the biggest certification programme in Cocoa, Coffee and Tea in West Africa.

The theme of the workshop is ‘Sustainable Cocoa Production: Re-awakening The Nigerian Cocoa Economy Through Certification Programme.”

“Every nation must plan the use of its land and there must be deliberate planning of land not only around the cities but even forest land and farmland so that we use the land for what most suitable for and this is very lacking in Nigeria.

“So the state government has responsibility to play a major role in land use planning.

“But, l think Federal Government because of its might should instigate support and promotional land use planning across all the states.

“So, we should be able to sit down and start to plan our land and make sure that they are use for most productive things,” he said.

The don, who explained that cocoa was the one of major cash crops with significant impact on the contribution of agriculture sector to the Nigerian economy, said it had reduced its value due to neglect by the government.

Oguntade attributed some of challenges of cocoa in the country to weak and poorly coordinated farmer organisation, scale of production, land tenure system, threat to local processors and inadequate support services from government.

According to him, these are the compelling reasons why we have to start thinking about land use planning now. So, we need to have discussion around and know which way to go.

“If we deliberate skilled infrastructure toward the rural areas it will reduce rural-urban migration of long term base.

“Cocoa production will usually continue to dwindle in the coming year if we are clearing cocoa farmland and converting them to non-agricultural uses and we are not planting new, obviously what we are able to produce we decline over time.

“Well, the bottom line is that Nigeria has no option, we must promote agriculture so that it will serve purposes it used to serve, that is, provision of employment, provision of household income generation of export revenue. This are the roles its played in the past.

“If anything happen to oil secor today, we are in serious trouble in Nigeria. what else can we do? So we must make our agriculture plays its own role and cocoa are being living up to expectation but could do better,”he said.

Earlier, Mr Kwame Osei, Country Representative Ghana and Nigeria of Rainforest Alliance, said that the programme was organised to address the challenges and to make great impact in cocoa economy in West Africa.

“So, we believe that one person can not handle the challenges in the cocoa economy and to bring our heads together from research, from government, from NGOs to be able to understand the issues to a common agenda to drive cocoa economy forward, that is why we are here.

“And most importantly, rainforest alliance are coming with a greater force to be able to address the challenges to make great impact in cocoa economy that is the reason why we have met today to look at the way forward and how to re- awaking cocoa in Nigeria,”he said.

NAN

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