SW States plan to promote large scale farming, boost production in 2017
Some State Government in the Southwest have promised to prioritise agriculture and its value-chain framework to increase food and livestock production in the region.
The various government officials told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews that they intend to add value to agriculture.
According to them, adding value to agricultural products would improve food production, earn foreign exchange and boost the economy of their various states.
Gov. Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State said the state government would focus on areas of comparative advantage to boost internally generated revenue and project the state as the food basket of West Africa.
The governor made this known in Ibadan while speaking on the policy thrust and philosophy of the 2017 Appropriation bill.
He said that the “Agric-Oyo” programme inaugurated in 2016 was part of the efforts to reposition the agricultural sector.
‘’Its emerging value-chain framework has the potential to promote food sufficiency, youth employment, reduction in the rate of rural-urban migration and enhanced social security’’, he said.
He said that the Agric-Oyo programme had raised the level of food production in the state by 27.5 per cent.
The governor stated that government would extend ‘’Agric-Oyo’’ activities to local government councils that have shown willingness to collaborate with the ministry.
‘’The ministry will also kick start in the 2017 fiscal year the process of creating one million jobs across all local governments.
‘’This will be done through the implementation of another laudable programme tagged ‘Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP)’’, he said.
Prof. Lateef Taiwo of the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T), Ibadan, said adding value to agricultural products would improve food production, earn foreign exchange and boost the economy.
Taiwo told NAN in Ibadan that value addition would create employment opportunities, boost the economy and reduce poverty rate.
‘’Value addition to any of our farm produce will create jobs through the value chains; industries involved in the value chain upgrade process will need various job hands to operate the machine lines.
‘’More raw materials will be needed to feed the industries and consequently lead to expansion in production of farm fields.
‘’There will be need to expand market outlets as more people will be involved.
“Semi-finished or finished products will be pushed to local, regional and international markets”, he said.
He, however, urged the government to provide farmers with some infrastructure such as good roads, electricity and storage facilities.
Taiwo said the government should also fund research institutions so that modern farming technologies and extension services should be extended to rural farmers.
In Ogun, the state government said it had concluded plans to promote large scale farming and improved agricultural production in 2017.
Mr Tosin Ademuyiwa, the Special Assistant to Gov. Ibikunle Amosun on Agriculture, made this known in an interview with NAN in Abeokuta.
He said the state had concluded plan to expand the state-owned cocoa, oil palm, cotton, kolanut and cashew plantations located across the state.
Ademuyiwa added that the state was planning to install a 15,000-capacity hatchery as well as engage in massive production of point-of-cage pullets.
‘’Government had also acquired about 10,000 hectares of agricultural land for allocation to investors to promote large scale farming and improved agricultural production, as part of efforts to provide a platform for agricultural- based industrialisation’’.
He said the procurement of additional land clearing and farming equipment was underway.
He listed other areas of intervention for 2017 as establishment of standard semi-abattoirs in major cities, production of maize and rice seeds and cassava cuttings for distribution to farmers at highly subsidised rates.
Other areas, according to him, were replication of Owowo Model Farms in the two other senatorial districts and development of hydroponics franchise scheme, using greenhouse technology in tomato and pepper production.
He explained that the state government had already entered into an agreement with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to boost the production of fresh fish in commercial quantity through a cage culture system.
‘’Agricultural production is not something we can achieve in just one year, so we have to develop an implementation programme from 2017 to 2019.
‘’First is the establishment of new oil palm plantation in Ayepe, Ipokia, Eggua Onidundun and Ijebu North East and also establishment of new rice field because of the Federal Government policy on backward integration of rice.
‘’We intend to open up rice fields, and encourage farmers to form more cooperative groups; it has already started in Eggua.
‘’We intend to strengthen our partnership with the International Fertiliser Development Cooperation (IFAD) by increasing its operation to eight council areas from four’’, he said.
On government’s plan for dry season farming, Ademuyiwa explained that the state government had distributed over 20 pumps to farmers.
‘’There are farmers cooperatives that we put together.
‘’Fadama has its own; the government now did the distribution of those pumps for farmers who were involved in dry season farming.
‘’They are farmers along Ogun River and some in Odogbolu, beside Odogbolu River.
‘’In Ogun, the area where we have farmers who plant vegetables most are in Odogbolu and for them to do well during dry season, they need water pump to take water from the stream to their farms’’, he said.
Ademuyiwa also said the state could not do much in the area of mopping up of excess agricultural products because the major silos in the state are owned by the Federal Government,
The Chairman of Ogun Rice Farmers’ Association, Mr Bode Adenekan, told NAN that the state had continue to ensure that it paid counterpart funding to ensure that farmers in the state enjoy Federal Government- assisted projects.
In Ekiti, the state government said it would declare an emergency in agriculture sector to boost food production and earn more revenue.
The state Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Kehinde Odebunmi, told NAN in Ado Ekiti that some targets had already been set to achieve the mission.
According to him, plans are afoot to turn the sector to a major revenue earner that would contribute at least 50 per cent of the state’s internally generated revenue.
“We want to guarantee sustainable agricultural production with a view to ensuring food security, alleviating poverty, providing employment and encourage private participation in food production.
“As part of our plans, we intend to massively boost our capacity in agriculture by supporting our farmers in cocoa and rice production among other areas of farming endeavours
“The state is also determined to extend its farming frontiers beyond the physical condition of farming to mechanisation and technology in all areas of cultivation, harvesting and processing’’, he said.
He stressed that part of the programmes include reviving cocoa plantations to make the state regain its leading position in cocoa production.
The commissioner disclosed that the ministry was currently raising 500,000 hybrid cocoa seedlings for transplanting in 2017.
He said already, a total of five hectares parenter cocoa garden had been established in the state.
Odebunmi stated that no fewer than 25,000 farmers would be assisted through micro-credit loans and direct supply of agro-chemicals as well as fertiliser.
He disclosed that more than 15,000 farmers had earlier been assisted in these regards.
An agriculturist, Mr Debo Ogunyemi, however, advised the state government to open up more land for large scale farming.
He also called for the refurbishing of the Orin Cassava Processing Plant so as to also boost production.
Another expert, Mrs Fayoke Akinola, asked government to fulfil all counterpart funding obligations so as to enable the state to benefit more from such facilities.
A Don, Dr Akinpelu Oluseye, said government must increase its annual budgetary allocation to the agriculture sector because of its importance.
He also suggested that government should consider the development of irrigation sites in areas hosting Ero, Egbe and Itapaji dams while the six farm settlements across the state should be made more functional.
Mr Olubukola Aluko, the Coordinating Director in the Osun Ministry of Agriculture, Food security and Youth Engagement, said the state government would commence the distribution of farm inputs to boost food production during the dry season.
Aluko told NAN in Osogbo that the distribution would soon start, adding that the programme would accommodate both individual and corporate farmers in the state.
He said the agriculture support initiative was being carried out in collaboration with the Federal Government through the FADAMA scheme to help farmers overcome dry season farming challenges.
According to him, the state government would give out fertiliser, farm inputs while supporting irrigation activities.
Also speaking, Mr Kayode Afolabi, the State Chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), on his part, said food production had improved in the state.
He said though enough food crops for consumption were produced in 2016, excesses were not recorded.
Afolabi, who said that farmers in the state were being educated and encouraged to embrace irrigation farming, noted that the state government had promised to assist farmers boost production during the dry season.
In Kwara, the state government said it would spend about N1 billion to boost agricultural activities in the state.
Mr Anu Ibiwoye, the Special Adviser to Gov. Abdulfatah Ahmed on Agriculture and Rural Water Support Services, said this in Ilorin in an interview with NAN.
The Governor`s aide, who revealed that the state government had commenced biometric verification of farmers, explained that this would aid planning and provision of credit facility for farmers.
Ibiwoye said the registered farmers would have access to agriculture credit at a single digit from the government, adding that there would be off-demand takers drive agriculture to help farmers harness opportunities.
The Divisional Head for Agriculture, Harmony Holdings, Mrs Iyabo Amajo, said the state government through Harmony Holdings Limited (HHL), recently organised an international agriculture trade fair.
She said that the international trade fair was attended by both local and international players and development partners in the agricultural value-chain industry.
‘’The trade fair was conceived to key into the policy and programmes of the Kwara State Government on improved agriculture’’, she said.
The AFAN Chairman in the state, Mr Ajibola Olawale, said that lack of electricity in rural areas had led to rural-urban migration of youths who were expected to be on the farms.
Olawale said that the association had received help from the International Finance Corporation which had provided members affordable and subsidised solar refrigerators, solar televisions as well as solar lamps.
He urged Kwara farmers to utilise the opportunity to make rural living worthwhile while assuring farmers of benefits that would later come through the World Bank.
These benefits, he said, would include credit facilities as soon as they were registered with their individual co-operative associations.
Predicting the food production prospects for 2017, the Provost of Federal College of Agriculture, Akure (FECA), Dr Samson Odedina, said there would be food surplus in spite of fears in some quarters that there would be famine.
Speaking with NAN in Akure, the provost described Nigerians as problem-solvers.
‘’I want to allay the fears of those saying that there will be famine in 2017 because a lot of people have responded by embracing agriculture in recent times unlike before.
‘’We will soon see the result in a short while because there has been a tremendous increase in response to agriculture by Nigerians of all strata’’, he said.
He said that the current trend in the sector, if properly managed, would maintain balance of prices of food that would be favourable to the farmers and the consumers.
According to him, prices of food will crash naturally if cost of production is reduced and there is high output.
‘’This happens when trained farmers are involved in food production.
‘’When they are trained and infrastructure put in place, everyone will smile including the farmers and consumers.
‘’We now know that it is through agriculture that we can revive our ailing economy’’, he said.