Ajimobi, Ogbeh solicit support for nation’s agricultural development
Gov. Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State and Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, have appealed to Nigerians to support government’s agricultural development efforts aimed at enhancing food sufficiency.
They made the appeal during a courtesy call on Ajimobi by Ogbeh at the Government House in Ibadan.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Ogbeh was in Ibadan on a two-day working visit and a week-long visit to the South-West region of the country.
Ogbeh said that the nation had and still has all it takes to be food-sufficient and also be an agricultural-produce exporting country rather than be a nation that thrives on importation.
“Expending $22 billion on importing food into the country on an annual basis is highly ridiculous, particularly in Nigeria, where we can produce enough for consumption and to export,’’ he said.
He said that Oyo State had and still has very rich agricultural potential and powerful possibilities in agriculture to enhance food sufficiency and boost the nation’s exporting sector.
“Our visit is to awaken the people of the state to their important role in bringing Nigeria back to its old glory through the use of agriculture to power sustainable development.
“For many reasons, Oyo State is significant in taking Nigeria to the Promised Land in her focus to be an agricultural exporting country, rather than an importing nation.
“The state has the highest number of poultry farms and other natural potential. It is both a tropical and guinea savannah area with arable land which will support extensive farming system,’’ he said.
He described the state as the protein capital of the country because of its large concentration of poultry farms.
“The biggest dairy organization is in Oyo State. People do not have to be Fulani to rear cattle. Lagos alone consumed 6,000 cows daily.
“The addition of other states will put daily consumption across the country to nothing less than 40,000 daily.
“We will work with the state government to resuscitate the old cow ranches in Fasola, near Oyo town and Ikere village in Iseyin Local Government Area of the state,’’ he said.
The minister also described the concentration of cashew nuts in Ogbomoso area of the state as another opportunity that would be exploited by the government.
He said that export of cashew nuts would no longer be permissible as it would be wholly processed in the country.
“Ogbomoso is the centre of cashew nuts. We don’t have to export anymore; but process it, so that we won’t be exporting jobs. We can export the finished products, not the cashew nuts,’’ he said.
Ogbeh allayed the fears of the people on yam exportation, saying it would have no adverse effect on the country.
According to him, “Yam is already being exported through the borders with the labels of other countries that did not plant them affixed on them.
“We have enough yams to feed us and for export. Some are of the opinion that exportation of yams will cause price increase, it is a lie.
“People are already exporting yams through our borders and the painful thing is that they label the packages with the other countries’ names.”
He informed the governor that the Federal Government had made available large number of farm inputs like chemicals, fertilizer, tractors and others at 60 per cent discount to farmers in Oyo State.
Gov. Ajimobi in his remarks said that 80 percent of the land in the state was arable land, putting the state at a vantage position to benefit from the planned agricultural revolution.
Ajimobi said he was happy that the Federal Government had realized the need to explore the nation’s agricultural potential.
“No nation in the world can claim to be a nation if it cannot feed its citizens, ’’he said.
The governor advised the Federal Government to step up advocacy toward making people to realise the wealth that is accruable from agriculture.
He said that the state took a unique dimension by embracing integrated organic agricultural programme.
Ajimobi said the visit would make the state to dedicate 250,000 hectares of land from its existing 350,000 hectares of fallow lands to afforestation.
“Nigerians should be grateful to God that this particular Minister for Agriculture is focused on restoring agriculture to its old glory.
“Agriculture is profitable and we just have to let the people know. We must find a way to structure it to make it viable,’’ he said.
The governor said that his administration had embraced the integrated organic farming system; adding it had employed over 1,000 graduates out its targeted 10,000.
“We will leverage on your visit to achieve so many other things as we believe you will advise us where necessary while you are here,’’ he said.
NAN reports that the minister would visit many farm settlements, old ranches and allied locations in the state before his departure for other states in the South-west region.