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Speaking during the launch of the programme, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Adebiyi Daramola, represented by the Deputy Vice-chancellor, Development, Prof. Tolulope Akinbogun, urged the participants to give the training all attention because of its importance.
According to him, cocoa production, which used to be one of the mainstays of the Nigerian economy, especially in the South West, has long been abandoned for oil, but is now due for revitalisation.
Akinbogun said, “There are always modern ways of doing things to achieve the best result. If you do not know these modern ways, it will affect your output. See this opportunity as one of the best. Utilise it well so that you can train others”.
He said FUTA is well positioned to carry out the training because of its abundant experts in agriculture and related fields. He said the University would continue to ensure that it adds value to its immediate environment and the society at large.
In his welcome address, the Director of the Centre for Entrepreneurship, Dr. Ayo Olajuyigbe, praised the effort of the Ondo State governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, in revamping cocoa production in the state through the constitution of the Cocoa implementation committee otherwise called Cocoa Revolution Project.
This effort has led to the need to train the first batch of 20 trainees who are to become Master Pruners who will eventually replicate the knowledge gained among peasant farmers across the state. He further commended Governor Mimiko for his government’s effort in turning raw cocoa into chocolate for local and international consumption.
Olajuyigbe also called on Ondo State government and other neighbouring states to leverage on some of the research output from FUTA so as to develop their citizens and build in them entrepreneurial skills. This is because skill acquisition holds the key to solving the seemingly intractable problem of youth unemployment in the country.
In his speech, Chairman, Ondo State Cocoa Implementation Committee, Dr. Jibayo Oyebade, expressed delight in the operations of FUTA. He said “FUTA has come to stand distinctly in the comity of universities in Nigeria, Africa and the world. There are lots of potentials in FUTA that should be externalised”.
Commending FUTA, Oyebade said “We appreciate FUTA’s CENT for partnering us to train this first set of pruners. This training will enhance the skill of the cocoa farmers in our state and further showcase our products to the world”. He also thanked FUTA for accepting to train the people for further development of the cocoa industry.