Oba Dokun ThompsonOba (King) Dokun Thompson, a direct descendant of Gureje Thompson, currently leads the region as its monarch, bearing the title Oloni of Eti-Oni. A visionary in his own right, and as someone with deep ties to the cacao farming, HRM is working on the renaissance of the cocoa industry to transform into one that is productive and highly rewarding to the local community. This is achieved through different strategies and different kinds of approaches to ensure that everybody is involved in the entire process of achieving what needs to be achieved with cocoa production and, by extension, with the agriculture of other cash crops in Nigeria. In addition to his role as a traditional ruler since 2008, Oba Dokun Thompson is the Chairman of Eti-Oni Development Group, which organises the annual Cocoa Festival in Nigeria, and heads the National Organizing Committee, Nigeria for the biennial Global Cocoa of Excellence Award held at the Salon du Chocolat in Paris, France. He is also credited as the initiator of the African Natural Rulers (ANR) Initiative in 2015, a platform centered around achieving sustainable primary socio-economic development in Nigeria, and more specifically in rural areas by facilitating conversations around issues such as conflict, poverty, health, education, housing and environment. HRM is also an active participant in several international conferences and events, and delivers addresses on peace, sustainable development and cultural education with relation to Africa.
You are well known in Africa and in other parts of the world as someone who is bringing about a transformation in the Nigerian cocoa industry. What has inspired your efforts towards the same?
Since your focus has been on reviving cocoa production in Nigeria, and considering your vast knowledge in the field, could you tell us a little more about the challenges that you have seen in the entire supply chain over time with respect to raw materials and inputs quality, pest and disease attacks, and market linkage for farmers and prices?
Just like you mentioned, it is unfair to call farmers poor because of their living conditions. In your opinion, how can farmers in the Nigerian ecosystem be helped?
The right opportunities inspire people to work hard and uplift themselves. In this regard, what kinds of opportunities do you think should be provided to the farmers, so that their lives can be transformed?
In one of you interviews recently, there was a topic of discussion around should Nigeria be focussing on export as a primary objective or should they be focussing on improving the quality of existing cocoa for better consumption domestically. What are your views on focussing on export verses focussing on better domestic consumption?
One of the biggest challenges that cocoa farmers are facing in Nigeria is with respect to selling raw cocoa beans, but apart from that, what are some of the challenges that cocoa farmers are facing through the entire supply chain, from sowing to harvest?
People are talking about sustainability these days, and everyone has their own sustainability pillars. What would you say are the steps required to build a sustainable cocoa business in Nigeria and in other parts of the world as well?
Youth form the backbone for any country. Do you think the inclusion of technology can help attracting youth back to agriculture?
One last question: what would be your advice to the agricultural community?