Ondo State Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu has said the state would soon begin exporting tomatoes and other crops following investments in the agricultural sector.
According thenationonlineng.net, Akeredolu said the 83 tons of cocoa harvested last year was the highest recorded in the state in 15 years.
Speaking through his Special Adviser on Agriculture and Agric-business, Mr Akin Olotu, he claimed 60 per cent of tomatoes entering Lagos State was harvested in Ondo State.
The Ondo Governor said the increased production of tomatoes followed the persuasion of churches and organisations to venture into agriculture.
He said they had also commenced the cultivation of onions and that there was a demand by the farmers for a market where they could sell their produce.
Akeredolu explained that increased tomato production would be achieved through irrigation.
He said: “We are bringing youths together to cultivate tomatoes. We are committed to making Ondo the leading producer of tomatoes in the Southwest. Before this month runs out, you will see the first greenhouse community in Ondo State that we are piloting.
“We encourage cooperative arrangements for funds and support to be made available. When farmers come together (as a) cooperative, it will make it easier to help them.”
His administration, he added, had identified oil palm, cashew and cocoa as tree crops which the state had a comparative advantage over other states and because of the potential to earn foreign exchange.
He said investors had been given 67,000 hectares of land to grow oil palm.
On the problem posed by encroachers to pursuing the tree crop cultivation, Governor Akeredolu said the encroachers would not be chased away but integrated into the programme.
According to him, “We have serious encroachment in the forest. I have met with the encroachers and told them they were not supposed to be there. We want to manage them. We had an agreement on having them registered and treated as tenants pending final arrangements to be put in place.
“The arrangement is part of our plan to cluster farmers. We want to cluster farmers in various areas to improve output as well as be beneficial to farmers.
“The investors have agreed on strategies to take care of the encroachers. Some will be in growers, some will be relocated. We will allow others to harvest their crops and then we will cluster the farmers so that intervention for them will become easy so that we begin to have organised farming. Until we organise farmers, we will not be able to drop peasant farming.”