- Plans Investment Summit in October
- Earmarks 250,000ha for fresh investment in agribusiness
By Franklin Ocheneyi
“IN a nutshell, the forthcoming Oyo State Agriculture Investment Summit/Exhibition with the theme, ‘Transforming Oyo State’s Agriculture and Agro-Allied Industries- Private Sector Participation’ will be hosted by the Governor himself, Senator Abiola Ajimobi. Of course, he is using the ministry of agriculture to do that. Part of what they want to do is to actually provide the land and they have earmarked in different parts of the state over 250,000 hectares for the private sector that is coming in to develop and convert into agricultural use.”
Oyewale Oyewunmi, Commissioner for Agriculture, Oyo State, told journalists in Lagos at press briefing that the event has been scheduled to hold in October this year at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Ibadan.
“IITA, Ibadan and various other organisations including the governor of Oyo State, have looked at Oyo State as one of the big agricultural states in Nigeria, and the idea is to bring together the private sector into alliance with what the state wants to do. So, over the last few months, IITA has been putting together a 25 years policy document for Oyo State. It is an integrated plan with short-term, medium –term and long-term goal. Besides, that, the actual theme of the summit is: ‘Transforming Oyo State’s Agriculture and Agro-Allied Industries- Private Sector Participation,” he said’
Track Records of Agric prowess
Represented by Mr. John Delano, Media Adviser to the Commissioner, he said: “Oyo State has a track records and history of agricultural prowess, Excellency in agriculture. Even as we speak, Oyo state is the poultry capital of the country, and the No.1 in cassava; No.1 in cashew; does a lot of maize and sorghum and various other crops. What we felt is that it’s time to get collaboration between the government and the private sector on an on-going basis and on a more formal basis
It is all inclusive and the idea is to have an annual summit where all the stakeholders can come together and everybody can be on the same page. We are talking about agric business enterprises, investment companies, finance, the government itself and various other stakeholders, of course, the small-holder farmers, and government agencies that have to do with the industry.
So, it is very much a beginning rather than an end. The idea is to come together to know what we want to achieve over the first five years, one year at a time.
“Over the next few months we will unveil the policy document which IITA has been working on. We will also start to unveil speakers, and panelists some of them are Chi Farms, Olam, Zartech, Dangote Farms, Flour Mills, etc. They already have a stake in Oyo State, and then others who are international the likes of Bills & Melinda Gates The World Bank, AfDB, etc. It’s going to be an interesting meeting of minds; there will be presentations, panel discussions, etc.”
“Roads to farms are one of the biggest problems in Oyo state and it is going to be tackled. Any government that is serious about attracting investment must build roads to farms. Agriculture is a big area in Nigeria and over the last few years we have had some challenges which various states have tackled in different ways. We are quite convinced that the challenges need to be addressed on a state-by-state basis rather than trying to do it from a federal level.
Of course, the federal government has some very good policies but we feel that each state can take ownership of its agricultural sector. One of the big challenges that agriculture has is that a lot of our farmers are small- holders’ farmers which basically means that they do not have some of the modern tools that they would require but besides that we have issues around the value –chain. There is a lot of wastage because there is no storage or there is little storage.
Also, the farmers don’t get money in time to but their inputs like fertilizer, insecticides and so forth. All these things are important and needs to be more organised. In the old days, there were farmers’ cooperatives even at states level. We need to go back to that type of system,” he said.