Nigeria: Farming to banish famine

Osun Defender | 21 October 2011
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Banana and plantain market at Ikire, Osun State of Nigeria (Photo: IITA)

THE foregoing does not bare the full list of efforts by the present-day administration of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola in Osun State to lift the state’s economic viability through agricultural renaissance. There have been other areas where the present-day administration is making ground-breaking moves to revolutionize agriculture and turn the economic fortunes of the State around positively. OSUN DEFENDER Magazine shall devote this segment to those salient measures already adopted or embraced to make agriculture and our entire economy by extension vibrant once again.

Within the first six months of his administration, Ogbeni Aregbesola has set the stage for the state’s unparalleled growth and transformation in the area of agriculture. His intellectual preparedness, strategic planning, administrative sagacity and infectious hard work are not in doubt – they have begun to manifest with great rapidity. In that length of time mentioned. The incumbent administration has set mark to achieve what the inept Oyinlola administration could not achieve in the entire seven-and- a-half years that is sat tight in office.

Today, the atmosphere has changed. As at the time of compiling this report, Governor Rauf Aregbesola is allocating a land parcel measuring up to 50 hectares to farmers at Mokore Farm Settlement under the auspices of the Osun Rural Enterprise and Agricultural Programme (OREAP). This step is one of the multiple ones to come as a way of preparing farmers adequately for maximum food production against the next rainy season.

The event mentioned above came on the trail of the recent agreement reached between the State Government and the authorities of the Netherlands to partner for maximum agricultural productivity and food security.

Much earlier, a set of Korean investors had come to explore investment potentialities of Osun State, with particular reference to agriculture. The partnership deal has stuck. It is a separate arrangement from the afore-mentioned Osun Rural Enterprise and Agricultural Programme (OREAP). The two are however complementary. The truth of the matter is that agriculture is now considered as a matter of priority and great urgency as a veritable resource base, revenue earner and employment generator.

With the present development, citizens of Osun State, youths and incoming generation in particular can view the future with greater confidence. Agriculture in the state has started to witness rejuvenation with the ageing population of farm workers being replaced with vibrant youths. This trend would produce greater yield. Also with the higher educational attainments wielded by the new entrants into the agricultural sector, the sector shall witness total reinvigoration. In a fell swoop, the effect would be triple – attracting youth employment, increasing agricultural yields outputs and boosting our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).

Korean farmers have a brilliant focus for investing in an area. Their primary focus is large-scale mechanized farming. Our besetting hitherto had been gross reliance on crude implements and traditional agrarian farming methods/techniques which limits productivity. The modernized techniques do not suggest utter jettisoning of peasant farmers. They are to be incorporated into the scheme of reinvigoration. In other words, the large-scale mechanized farms can find these peasants useful as out croppers who are incorporated into contact schemes.  This shall produce an end-result of getting them well conversant with more up-to-date methods of farming while at the same time allowing them to be trained in the use of new improved seedlings, storage facilities, systems and marketing techniques.

The initiative that gave birth to the advent of Koreans instills fresh lease of life that eventually, Osun State has begun to be seen as a land of prolific harvest and profound resources. This is a vital impetus to the over all economic regeneration of the state. More so, when the socio-political climate prevailing in the state today is friendly and congenial to investors who may wish to sink heavy resources into production on our land. Thank God for the peace that we enjoy.

Also, a robust partnership is in the pipeline between the incumbent Osun State Government and People’s Republic of China in area as critical as agriculture. This could be the best explanation for the Governors working visit to that foreign land. Cooperation and partnership in agriculture is of particular interest to the State Government, which has the focus of boosting the economy of the state as its topmost priority.

During a visit to China in July, Governor Aregbesola presented the Osun State Economic Development Agenda to a gathering of Chinese investors and government officials at a seminar facilitated by the All-China Federation of Trade Unions. The ACFTU has vested interest in incurring huge massive investments in critical areas in Nigeria with special attention on Osun State.

In his quoted speech to Chinese Xinhua, in July, the following excerpts by Aregbesola are of relevant interest to OSUN DEFENDER Magazine:
“We are keen on agricultural programmes and projects, particularly, food. So we are going to explore possibility of engagement in food production programmes and activities. We are equally keen on logistics, improvement of agricultural produces from our remotely local state to Lagos where the market is.”

In addition, it is imperative that though the bond, Osun State would also explore the possibility of having investment in heavy agricultural equipment.

In July the State Government approved a sum of N255 million for release to execute Rural Access Mobility Project (RAMP) to assist farmers in getting their farm produces transported from rural areas and farm centres to urban centres this step is a giant stride to opening rural areas up to large markets in urban areas.
Much recently, Osun State was named as one of the very few states in the federation that was counted worthy of a fresh award of the Rural Access Mobility Project (RAMP) by the World Bank. This development is a further boost to the ongoing agricultural drive of the incumbent administration as it shall further open up rural areas, agricultural centres and farm settlements to urban centres with good network for conveyance of agricultural inputs and outputs.

In July also the administration of Engineer Rauf Aregbesola signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Syncop Corporation Limited, a Korean Company, to the tune of $400 million (equivalent of N600 billion) on an investment deal in food production and other areas of agriculture. This deal is expected to bring 127,000 jobs into Osun State and bring a boost to our Internally-Generated Revenue (IGR) base.
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