Oyo State government has said its focus in agriculture is different from what is contained in the document left behind by the Abiola Ajimobi-led government.
Speaking with The Guardian in Ibadan, the Executive Adviser to the Governor on Agribusiness, Dr. Debo Akande, said though the document contained some information, the Seyi Makinde-led administration was looking beyond it by focusing on agribusiness.
Akande said agribusiness, which is all-encompassing, is the aspiration of the current government.
He said: “What I saw when we came on board was a document that was quickly done at the close of the administration of the previous government. I am aware that they requested the International Institute Tropical Agriculture (IITA) to help them do the document. I’m not sure that is a roadmap. But there are pieces of information in that document that are okay and good for many other things.
“But what we are doing is a little bit different from what was done in the past. The critical thing between what they wanted to do and what we are doing is the movement from just agriculture to agribusiness. Even if there is any document there at any point in time, the document did not focus on agribusiness.”
He added that agribusiness is all-encompassing on technical business and management of agriculture, saying, “What they proposed just focused on technical aspects of agriculture. So, that will not meet up with the aspiration of this administration is currently.”
Akande disclosed that the state was targeting own schools in the state to explore all aspects of agriculture as a business.
“In the mid and long term, we are expecting to develop an apprenticeship programme in agriculture where young people will be working with the private sector operators and also studying in the same place. The other thing is the issue of the small-holder farmer initiative to develop and support them with farm inputs.
“Beyond that, we are also supporting opening up of some land within the state. The pieces of land will be used for the youth initiative to engage in a mechanicalised agricultural scheme. We are not going to recruit the youth alone to work on the farm. We are developing them as entrepreneurs. When they work there, they work differently. They will be competitive with their peers working in other sectors. We are going to use technology to support agriculture. We are revamping agriculture processing in the state to be able to cater for the growth in production.”
On the N7.6 billion loan facility approved by the Oyo State House of Assembly last year, the governor’s aide said the construction of farm estates which the loan was meant for would start soon.
Dr Akande said: “We are just about to kick-start the construction of the farm estates. The funding we are supposed to use for the construction of the farms was only received sometime in January or February. There were a lot of processes that went into it before it could get to us from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). We also understand what has happened recently on the issue of the pandemic. That has created a little delay for us. Very soon, we will start the building.”
He disclosed that the state has about nine farm settlements and all the settlements, would be made farm estates.
He said, “But we are starting as a pilot with just two. The reason we are starting with two is that we are starting with low-hanging fruits in project implementation. Eruwa and
Akufo are low-hanging fruits for us.
“They are situated around the already built infrastructure that agriculture needs. That will enable us to use the resources we have very well. The second thing is that two settlements are close to each other. So, it is easy for monitoring and evaluation for us to work on the pilot. The last thing is that the Eruwa already has a water body that can be used for irrigation farming.”
However, he disclosed the governor had requested that the road between Iseyin and Moniya should be built as part of the infrastructure base for farm estates in the next phase.