Nigeria Senate President Bukola Saraki on Tuesday commended a 66-year-old Germany-based Nigerian engineer, Mr Olusegun Arowolo, for inventing a cocoa pod breaking machine, the first ever in the world.
He made the commendation in Abuja at the public demonstration of the machine — “Gideon Cocoa Pod Breaking Machine’’ – which can break 30,000 cocoa pods in one hour.
He challenged the youths to use technological skills in to promote commercial agriculture in the country.
Saraki, who was represented by Sen. Abdullahi Adamu, Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture, underscored the need for youths to embrace large-scale farming in efforts to grow the nation’s economy.
He said that government was committed to providing an environment that was conducive to modern agriculture, as part of efforts to boost agricultural production.
Saraki said that this had become imperative as government was bent on reviving the economy through the non-oil sector, particularly through agriculture.
He said that agricultural mechanisation would encourage the youth to participate in crop growing, as it would reduce the stress and drudgery associated with current methods of farming.
He said that technological innovations in agriculture would enhance agricultural productivity, which would consequently lift the nation out of economic recession and provide jobs for the youth.
He (Senate President) applauded Arowolo for inventing the cocoa pod breaking machine.
Sen. Adamu, who spoke on behalf of the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Agriculture, commended the inventor for thinking about Nigeria in his activities after a 40-year-sojourn in Germany.
He said that the National Assembly had been making concerted efforts to make farmers adopt improved technology in their operations.
He said that adoption of improved technology and increased farm sizes was inevitable and imperative in efforts to increase food production and boost food security in the country.
Adamu said that it is so unfortunate that a large number of Nigerian farmers still relied on the use of crude farming implements, adding that only few farmers engaged in mechanized farming.
He said that the Senate Committee on Agriculture would review the public demonstration of the machine and make appropriate recommendations to the Senate President and Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
He, however, challenged local manufacturers to venture into the manufacturing of farm equipment, saying that tangible efforts should be made to increase the availability of state-of-the-art agricultural equipment in the country.
Adamu said that the committee could also encourage local manufacturers of farm equipment by recommending them to banks and the government for loans or tax holidays.
Also speaking, Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri, the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, underscored the need to develop and fabricate modern technologies in Nigeria, which was one of the largest economies in Africa and world in general.
He said that Nigeria, which had abundant human and material resources, was also blessed with a huge population of young people who should be passionate in efforts to drive the economy through agricultural development.
Lokpobiri said that the innovation was in line with the Federal Government’s plans to revolutionize cocoa production, with the aim of restoring Nigeria’s position as a leader in global cocoa production.
He said that the long and arduous process of breaking cocoa pods manually by farmers had been identified as a serious obstacle facing efforts to increase cocoa production for local consumption and exports.
The minister said that the cocoa pod breaking machine would substantially remove the drudgery associated with cocoa farming.
“The machine will drive changes, encourage high productivity and the process will remove a substantial amount of drudgery from farm labour.
“Not only will it save the farmers from hard labour and long hours of breaking cocoa pods but it will also stamp out wastage in the process,” he said.
The inventor, Arowolo, said that the idea of inventing the machine was conceptualized to complete the mechanization process of cocoa cultivation and boost cocoa production on a large scale for industrial uses.
He said that the machine would also provide work opportunities for the unemployed youths in cocoa plantations, thereby stemming rural-urban migration of the people.
“It is reported that as at 2016, Nigeria annual cocoa production rate is 192,000 tonnes.
“The use of the machine by cocoa farmers will boost the efforts of farmers to increase production, while it will also boost government’s efforts to revolutionize cocoa production,’’ he said.
Arowolo said that the machine was readily available in the country.
The inventor received several accolades during the presentation of the machine at the National Assembly, as lawmakers, researchers and visitors thronged the stand to catch a glimpse of the invention.