By: Tolulope Oluwole
Barry Callebaut, a cocoa producing company, has on Wednesday 31st May, 2023, orgaised a speech contest for selected schools in Akure.
The speech contest with the topic “Seeds For Change” was held at Acquinas College Hall, Akure, Ondo State capital.
The selected secondary schools are; St. Thomas’ Aquinas College, Akure; Fiwasaye Girls College, Akure; Imafon High School in Akure North; Ogbe High School, Oda Road and Akure Muslim College.
Addressing participants, the Sustainability manager for Barry Callebaut Nigeria, Mr Mujeeb Oniyide, said the essence of the speech contest was to enlighten children about some of the challenges the farmers are facing and the young ones can start thinking of solutions that would boost cocoa production.
Oniyide stressed that some schools were chosen from the main city while some were picked from the cocoa producing rural areas where most of the farmers are based.
“Some of them can become farmers, some of them can become lawyers that will formulate policies that will support the farmers in the future.
“Some of the issues we are addressing in cocoa sustainability is paramount that children are also one of the vulnerable people that we are also looking at. We have child labour cases in cocoa sector, by this, the children will also be aware of some of the challenges they are having and how they can face their education squarely and how they can profer a solution for the coming generation.
Oniyide stressed that some schools were chosen in the main city while some were picked from the cocoa producing rural communities where most of the farmers are based, so that they can fill the impact of the sustainability.
The Sustainability Manager said, “It is with great pleasure to welcome you all to this inaugural Seeds for Change Secondary School Speech Contest. Seeds for Change is Barry Callebaut’s employee engagement program for sustainability, introduced in December 2018.
“It is an innovative and encouraging way to drive learning and empowerment throughout the organization. With Seeds for Change, the organization has created a program that inspires globally and acts locally.
“The program arose from the need and desire of our employees to play their part in achieving the objectives of our sustainability strategy, Forever Chocolate.
“The Seeds for Change Ambassadors around the world are leading activities that enable colleagues on-site and off-site to have a positive impact, by initiating creative solutions to reduce our carbon footprint, greening our offices and factories, cleaning and brightening up our surroundings.
“Through these activities, employees are earning pod points that are used to buy seedlings for cocoa farmers participating in our sustainability initiatives. Seedlings have the triple benefit of improving farmers’ livelihoods, capturing carbon, and increasing crop diversity at the farm level.
“As a way of sensitizing our future generation and listen to their ideas, on climate change which adversely have become part of the challenges facing cocoa farmers in the country, it becomes imperative to also set up a platform to talk about solutions, questions and plans for our common future.
“For this reason we organize this speech contest for students -particularly starting from the highest cocoa producing state in Nigeria. It is with this hope that we carry the children along, so they can start planning and contributing to better tomorrow we all clamour for.
“Sustainability is at the heart of Barry Callebaut, representing one of our four strategic pillars. Together with our employees, we are creating a movement to make sustainable chocolate the norm. We encourage learning and empowerment throughout the organization to make change happen.
“This is the reason, 10 representatives – students – from 5 different schools will be discussing the two topics: The future of our cocoa & our planet and My part in shaping sustainable cocoa in Nigeria.
“Through events like this, we would like to emphasize that we all can make a positive impact. Sharing ideas and coming together to educate, to discuss and find possible solutions to a problem we all face is the very first step to make change happen.
“As a reward of participation and as a symbol of the global carbon reduction goal, 100 trees will be planted in 3 different schools which would be nurtured by the students. This will help students to learn about trees, to take care of them and to see them thrive day by day, just as we would like to see children to thrive,” Oniyide said.
The overall winner of the speech contest, Agnes Joseph, an SS2 student of Ogbe High school, Oda road, Akure noted the speech contest was an educative one, adding that she had gained more knowledge on what cocoa is and its importance.
Faith Ikotun from Ogbe high school, Oda road, came second while Oluwaponmile Emmanuel from Acquinas college came third.
Other schools who participated in the school includes; Fiwasaye Grammar school, Akure Muslim College and Imafon Community Grammar school.