Tourists from different parts of the world who are partaking in the first cocoa festival in Africa on Thursday converged on the Eti-Oni, the ancient town in Osun State that pioneered the production of cocoa in Nigeria over 120 years ago.
The maiden edition of the cocoa festival which began on Sunday November 27 would come to a climax with a grand finale on Saturday, December 3rd. The cocoa festival is the first of its kind in Africa and it was set up to motivate cocoa farmers to step up their production.
The event was designed to train the cocoa farmers and sensitize the on the modern technology in cocoa farming so that they would be producing high quality cocoa and make maximum profit.
To achieve this objective, a Farmer Field School was organised at Eti-Oni in which experts from Osun State Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security were taken to the cocoa farms to train the cocoa farmers on the best way to cultivate, harvest and market their cocoa.
The State Governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola said his administration was committed to ensure welfare of farmer by providing social amenities in the rural areas across the state, saying that the cocoa festival would
assist in charting a new course for cocoa production.
Aregbesola who was represented by the Director General of the Office of Economic Development, (OEDP), Dr Charles Akiinola commended the traditional ruler of Eti-Oni, the Oloni of Eti-Oni, Oba Dokun Thompson for initiating the cocoa festival.
The governor said the festival has provided a veritable platform to bring stakeholders in the cocoa business together to share ideas on cocoa production and other aspects of agribusiness as a way out of the
current economic recession.
Aregbesola urged other traditional rulers in the state to take a leaf out of Oloni of Eti-Oni by coming up with initiatives that would promote the agriculture potentials in their domains.
In a chat with our correspondent, Oba Dokun Thompson said the cocoa festival became necessary to remind people of the gigantic benefits of cocoa in the South-West in the past, encourage the cocoa farmer not to
relent and also inspire children to pick interest in cocoa.
The monarch said the festival attracted tourists from different parts of the world because of the historical background of the Eti-Oni as the pioneer of cocoa production in Nigeria.
Oba Thompson added that because of the significant roles played by his forefather, Gureje in the Kiriji/Ekiti Parapo war which terminated between Igbajo and Imesi-Ile in Osun State, the cocoa festival would
also be used to mark the 130 years of the signing of the treaty that brought war to an end.
He also lauded Governor Aregbesola for the construction of the tarred Igangan/Eti-Oni road which terminated at Olopon. The monarch also commended Governor Aregbesola for grading the remaining 9.8km kilometres to the centre of Eti-Oni for easy access into the community during and after the festival.
Oba Dokun Thompson also disclosed that during the grand finale of the weeklong festival, tagged ‘Gureje Day’, Governor Aregbesola would formally present the Premium Artisan Eti-Oni Chocolate Brand to the public and also launch the Eti-Oni Model Smart Town which is to be developed in line with the United Nation 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.