DAWN : South West Commissioners meet in Ogun , discuss agricultural development
ABEOKUTA- The South West Commissioners for agriculture have met in Abeokuta , the Ogun State capital and discussed how to improve agriculture and agric-businesseswuthin the region.
The commissioners for agriculture in six states ; Ogun,Oyo,Osun, Lagos , Ondo and Ekiti under the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria Commission agreed to harness the cultivation of local produces, exportation of raw materials, marketing of goods and control in importation of finished goods,
The stakeholders at the meeting highlighted major challenges and proffered possible solutions regarding agriculture within the south West region.
Speaking at the meeting , the Ag. Director General of DAWN commission, Seye Oyeleye, faulted Nigeria on its over dependency on crude oil as source of revenue generation and allocation without exploring other sources of income.
Oyeleye stressed that the focus on oil has made southwest region dependent on allocations from Federal Government and not self-productive.
"Some of our states struggle to meet basic obligations to the people all because of our mono cultural economy and it is a sad reflection on our part in south west Nigeria, that a region that once exported Cocoa, Cotton, Cashew, Rubber etc to the outside world now became susceptible and vulnerable, we suddenly became a people that must go to Abuja to collect monthly allocation before we could feed ourselves and in the process lost our pride and dignity.
"According to the World Cocoa Foundation, there has been 3% annual increase in demand for the past 100years. Begin a key ingredient in the production of chocolate, this continues growth in cocoa demand is in tandem with the budding demand for chocolate.
"The UN Food and Agricultural Organization in 2010, ranked Nigeria as the 4th largest producer of cocoa in the world with an output of 0.4million tonnes and as at 2014, Nigeria was still the 4th largest.
"However, despite the significant contribution of the cocoa subsector to the economy of Nigeria, downstream opportunities remain to be exploited. This is ironic for the obvious reason Cocoa is grown in Nigeria, packaged and exported for processing into chocolate and other by-products, which in turn are imported back into Nigeria".
Referencing the impact of the late Sage Awolowo in agriculture,Oyeleye charged the commissioners to collaborate and explore possible measures in agricultural business.
Commenting further, the Commissioner for Agriculture in Ogun State, Adepeju Adebajo, said the south west was built on agriculture urging for a more urgent and stronger part to getting their goal which would provide opportunities for the state.
Adebajo added that the Ogun state Governor has provided special intervention projects and review of policies as regarding agriculture with the objective to have market and sales.
Also, the Commissioner for Agriculture Ekiti State, Peter Odebumi, said the importance of the collaboration is to revive the lost glory of agriculture stressing that all commissioner should capitalise on it.
He also added that farmer in return should corporate with the government on its intervention in improving agriculture.
Likewise, the Permanent Secretary to the commissioner of Agriculture in Lagos state, Olaiwole Onasanya, emphasized that Lagos state has one of the largest markets in the country consuming agricultural products.
He added that collaboration within southwest region will put an end to importation in the country.
Similarly, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Agriculture in Oyo state, Oluwasegun Adekunle, added that southwest region should be independent in agriculture charging farmers to release their lands for government to bring investors and development thereby providing employment to the country.
However, the meeting gathered participants form the south west region as well as representatives from privates and public sector in agriculture.