A cashew nursery based in Kobape, Obafemi Owode Local Government Area of Ogun State, has been razed down by fire, which destroyed 130,000 seedlings and an eco-friendly nursery structure worth N220 million.
Mr Sotonye Anga, Owner and Operator of Sotonye Anga Farms, said 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 no one could say how it started.
“The fire started between 12 midnight and 1 a.m. The cashew nursery is the largest in Nigeria and Africa.
“The total number of cashew seedlings destroyed in the incident was 130,000 and its nursery is valued to be about N200 million.
“On the piece of the 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 the National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN), said that the farm would have significantly contributed to the total cashew production output in the country.
He said that the nursery was an eco-friendly structure.
“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 some, only about 2,081 seedlings were saved but they are now of no economic benefit because they can no longer be planted.
“So, you see that nothing is actually left,’’ Anga stated.
According to a police report obtained from the Farm Manager, Reginald Gogo Peters, who had immediately reported the incident to the Owode Egba Divisional Police Headquarters, the fire was attributed to thunder and lightning.
Anga, however, declined to speak on the insurance aspect of the business.