A cashew nursery based in Kobape under Obafemi Owode Local Government Area of Ogun has been raised down by fire destroying 130,000 seedlings and eco-friendly nursery structure said to worth N200 million.
Sotonye Anga, Owner and Operator of Sotonye Anga Farms told newsmen on Wednesday that the fire started in the early hours of June 1.
Anga, while expressing his sadness, said that the cashew nursery was the largest in Nigeria and arguably in Africa and had employed over 500 people in the Ogun community since its establishment.
According to Anga, it was raining heavily at the time the fire started but the fire was on and no one could say how the fire started.
“The fire started between 12 mid-night and 1 O’clock am. The cashew nursery is the largest in Nigeria and Africa.
“The total of cashew seedlings destroyed was 130,000 and its nursery is valued to be about N200 million.
“On the piece of land, we had two nurseries but since they were built apart, one of the nurseries was not touched by the fire, while one was completely burnt down.
“The nursery was a major employer of labour in the community. We created over 500 jobs, if we had succeeded in taking the seedlings into the field it would have created over 5,000 jobs,’’ he said.
Anga, who is also the National Publicity Secretary of National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN), said that the farm would have significantly contributed to the total cashew production output in Nigeria.
He said: “As sad as the event is, God who gave us the initiative, will enable us to rebuild it that is the hope we have.
“Although, we tried to salvage but only about 2,081 seedlings were saved but still they are of no economic benefits because they cannot be planted.
“So, you see that nothing is left,’’ Anga stated.
According to a police report obtained from Gogo Peters, the Farm Manager, who had immediately reported the incident to the Owode Egba Divisional Police Headquarters, the fire was said to have been caused by thunder and lightning.