Ogun State Government has commenced plans to engage 10,000 farmers who will be supported for mechanised farming. Governor Dapo Abiodun said 10,000 youths would be supported across the zones, to plant cassava, maize and rice, which are crops the state is a leading producer. According to the Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Kunle Somorin, each farmer will get a parcel of land and be supported with clearing, seedlings, extension and off-taker services to ensure the profitability of their ventures.
The initiative, which has the buy-in advantage, is a partnership arrangement to be funded by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the state. Currently, the state has partnered China, African Development Bank (AfDB), Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) and the CBN to invest in the sector through the Public-Private Partnership Programme (PPP).
During the three-day visit by AfDB officials to the state, the Governor said his government welcomes investors coming in their large numbers into the state. He said: “Once foreign exchange was removed from food items like rice, maize and cassava, the local demand for the items would be stimulated, thereby, helping to encourage local production. This administration would be focused on producing cassava, rice and maize, in the belief that the focus would help stimulate the local economy as there won’t be foreign exchange. We would be engaging the CBN through its different programmes and also issue Certificate of Ownership to the farmers.”
The leader of the AfDB Team, Oladapo Olagoke said the bank was looking at how it could use the agricultural potentials of the state to empower its people, adding that it has come up with a ‘Next Steps’ model, which he said would help to take the discussion to a point of reality.
Olagoke disclosed that the bank was also willing to turn the state into the hub for Agro Industrialisation in the country by using the state as an example to others in terms of creation of jobs for youths and how they could incorporate and develop programs that would empower the private sector to drive the agenda of agricultural transformation in the state.
While hosting the Executive Director/CEO of NEPC, Mr. Olusegun Awolowo, Abiodun, who solicited collaboration to enable seamless export of goods and services produced in the state, said food items are going to be the state’s items of focus, “our produce of focus, our crops of focus, we will be producing cassava, rice and maize, believing that will stimulate local production, since there won’t be forex for them.
“We have engaged the CBN and they have different interventions like the Anchor Borrowers Programme, the Accelerated Agriculture Development Scheme, the Agro Small and Medium Scale Enterprises scheme, among others; we will provide the land for our youths and cooperative, we will give them the certificate of ownership for those lands, as it will give them a sense of ownership.
“In view of the issues we have with cattle and ranching today, we have resolved to have own ranch in the state, we believe that we can have a world class ranch, a world class abattoir that can provide beef services to supermarkets, individuals,” he said. Awolowo promised to use his good office to fast-track the vision of the Governor, especially, in the area of agricultural productivity and human capital development. He said with the private sector background of the Governor, he would be able to transform the state into an industrial giant and a hub that would earn foreign exchange for the country through exporting finished products.
In addition, Abiodun has begun collaboration with relevant financial institutions in the country that are capable of providing credit support to cooperative societies and other micro, small and medium scale enterprises in the state. At this year’s International Day of Cooperatives Celebration with the theme: “ Coops for Decent Work,” the governor said his administration would provide an atmosphere that provides adequate motivation for cooperative societies to excel.
Another area of focus is the plan to exploit the potentials of the dairy market. It was learnt that the management of the Global Diary producers made an investment visit to the Governor recently in Abeokuta. The Governor, who expressed joy, considering the opportunity the agricultural sector brings to the state, said the sector being one of the biggest pillars of his administration could help boost the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and also help reduce the rate of employment.
In his remarks, the Chief Executive Officer, Irish Diary Milk, Global, Samir Boudjada noted that they chose the state because of its proximity to Lagos State, and that the state was strategically relevant and had passed all tests.“This is the ultimate state for us, the feedback is really positive and we are looking forward to being part of this private partnership and creating jobs in Nigeria. This is the gateway state close to Lagos and you know when you are sighting a factory, you need certain parameters, we need a seaport that we can export out our goods, so, Ogun State is strategically relevant to the business of this nature and we did not make a mistake, Ogun State has passed all the tests,” he said.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN