The government of Oyo state has said that it would continue to make agriculture the prime focus in reshaping the economy, revealing that it was set to stimulate an agricultural transformation in the country.
The state, according to the governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde has developed a robust strategic plan to guide the adoption of agriculture as a viable pillar for expanding the state’s economy.
Governor Makinde made this remark in his address on Wednesday at the flag-off of input distribution to farmers in Oyo state by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD).
The roll-out, to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on farmers, was the third in the series after the ministry had facilitated the disbursement of farm inputs in Kano and Kaduna states.
Makinde who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Olubamiwo Adeosun, lauded FMARD for the intervention and said that the state had resolved revamping the agricultural sector and exploring its potentials for economic transformation.
According to him, FMARD’s intervention was in tandem with the state’s response to supporting farmers through its COVID-19 Food Security Emergency Intervention Programme & the launch of the input distribution scheme in Iseyin.
Makinde said the government had distributed seedlings and farm inputs to about 11,000 smallholder farmers, while it also approved funds to aid 10,000 farmers with essential inputs.
“We have, within the last year, developed a robust strategic plan that is guiding the agricultural implementation in the State.
“We have started the following: construction of several rural roads, these include the Iseyin-Moniya road that leads to the food basket region of Oyo State, the development of the Awotan-Akufo road, which links one of the planned Farm Estates to the railway line from Lagos and Ibadan.
“We are in the process of upgrading several moribund farm settlements starting with Eruwa and Akufo to become world-class integrated Farm Estates driven by the private sector.
“We are also developing Fashola Farm as the livestock centre of excellence for Oyo State, reshaping the agriculture youth training centre at Awe, Oyo town to become the Youth in Agribusiness incubation centre of excellence.
“We are finalizing the construction of a major silo in Awe, Oyo town, developing rural aggregation centres across diverse regions and several international agribusiness investment drives that are currently yielding the level of private sector investors committing to the state.
“Just last week, we flagged off the headquarters of the new Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency in Saki, Oke Ogun, which will be responsible for developing and managing agribusiness in the state.
“As earlier mentioned, we believe that putting resources together in a systematic, deliberate and logical way will create an impact on agribusiness in this State and Nigeria,” Makinde said
The governor further called for a strategic partnership between the state and the ministry of agriculture, adding it was looking to benefit from the Federal Government Agricultural projects such as the agriculture mechanisation scheme.
Among other pleas, Makinde requested for Oyo state to be considered in the Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) project as well as the CARES programme, both sponsored by the World Bank.
“We anticipate that our collective efforts will provoke game-changing ideas and action plans that would set the pace for agricultural transformation in Nigeria and Africa at large,” he said.
The governor further tasked the FG on the Ikere Gorge Dam to the state to maximally utilise it for the development of agribusiness. He also solicited the reconstruction of several federal roads that link agriculture communities with markets and urban centres in the state.
In his response, Minister of State for Agriculture, Hon. Mustapha Shehuri said that FMARD was partnering with state governments and relevant stakeholders in ensuring food security, economic growth, and job creation.
FMARD at the event disbursed different categories of kenaf, yam and cocoa seeds and seedlings to Oyo farmers as part of its COVID-19 interventions.
Meanwhile, the farm settlements earlier revealed will benefit no fewer than 30,000 farmers, according to the State’s Commissioner for Agriculture, Hon. Ojekunle Ojemuyiwa, who also disclosed the launch of the Youths in Agribusiness scheme to target 10,000 youths.