LINUS OOTA writes on the collaboration between the Ogun state and the federal goverments to support cocoa farmers
Agriculture has been described over time as the mainstay of any nation’s economic development. But experts say Nigeria has not fully tapped into the area for its economic growth, but rather has relied largely on oil.
In a bid to promote agriculture as a means of revenue generation and an avenue to provide food on the tables of millions of Nigerians, the Ogun state government and the federal government jointly decided to promote agricultural development by providing farm inputs at subsidized rates.
Speaking at the kick-off of distribution of cheques under the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACS) and official roll out of the growth enhancement support [GES] held at the June 12 Cultural Centre, Abeokuta, the state governor Senator Ibikunle Amosun, and the minister of agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina submitted that it was high time the whole nation returned to the business of agriculture as the mainstay of its economy.
This, according to the duo, would accelerate the development of the country by providing employment, drastic reduction in importation of food and enhanced food sufficiency.
The CACS is a partnership between the state government and the Central Bank of Nigeria [CBN] to boost food production in ogun state, while GES is collaboration between Ogun state and the federal government designed to lift resources-poor farmers out of subsistence to self-sufficiency.
Governor Amosun noted that his administration had demonstrated its commitment to transform the agriculture sector through provision of access to CACS and GES, which would give genuine farmers access to farming inputs at highly subsidized rates, signing of relevant MoU under Agricultural Transformational Agenda (ATA) and agreement for the provision of 25 percent which would be complemented by 25 percent from the federal government in order to bring the total support for subsidized fertilizers to 50per cent for the small-holder farmers in Ogun state.
He urged beneficiaries to utilise the support strictly for the expansion of their enterprises and avoid any attempt to engage in loan diversion or agro-input trafficking of any sort.
The governor said the condition for benefiting from GES was being in the national farmers’ database, which qualified such registered farmers to purchase to purchase two bags of fertilizer at 50 per cent of the prevailing market prices, with free seedlings. He implored other farmers to get them listed in the national farmers’ database so that they could be part of the scheme in the next planting season.
Adesina, on his own part, commended the administration of Governor Ibikunle Amosun for its massive investment in agriculture, promising that the federal government would support the state to restore the glory of the sector.
He said the federal government would support Ogun state in improving cassava production and its processing “The federal government would, among others, support Ogun state with three large-scale cassava processing machines that can process 72 metric tones of cassava per year, one large-scale integrated rice mill that will process 90 metric tones of rice per year and provide N76 million counterpart fund on subsidizing inputs for cocoa farmers this year.
“Agriculture accounts for 40 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product [GDP] and 70 percent of agriculture in solving unemployment. We are determined to create wealth out of agriculture. We are spending $10 billion to import food into the country annually. This needs to stop; we cannot continue to import food.
“Nigeria should grow local, buy locally made goods and eat local foods because this will grow our economy drastically”
The minister added that the federal government would reduce import dependency of wheat importation by 40 percent. He further added that the federal government was ready to assist the state government.
Adesina said the federal government had completed one stock agro input centre in Ipokia area of the state and added that the country was blessed with land to cultivate rice, saying the country needed large scale mills to process the rice.
“Nigeria has a lot of farm produce, for instance, rice and for us to fully utilise that, we must be able to have large scale mills that can process it, we are going to invest in rice cultivation in Ogun state because government has allocated three large scale integrated rice mills in the state” he stated
He also said that the federal government would distribute 232,000 high yielding varieties of cocoa to farmers in the state at no cost. The state commissioner for agriculture, Engineer Ayo Olubori said the disbursement of the N1 billion CACS facility would be done in phases to qualified beneficiaries.
Ogun was one of the first 14 beneficiary states of the GES pilot scheme and the state government has disbursed over N100 million to farmers in the state in its efforts to make the state the food basket of the nation.
The commissioner said that the fund which was disbursed to farmers under the aegis of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) was part of the N1 billion loans which the Central Bank of Nigeria earmarked for agricultural development in the state.
He said that the disbursement was done having applied rigorous modalities to ensure that serious and competent farmers were given opportunity and empowerment that would boost the agricultural productivity and contribute to the GDP.
Olubori said the loans were disburse in batches to ensure genuineness, disclose that the loans were only disburse to genuine and interested farmers in the state to provide employment opportunities for the youths, especially in the ruler areas.
He explained that the government was not in a hurry to disburse the loan, but was determined to ensure its effective utilization.
While commenting on the federal government’s assistance to farmers in the state, Olubori said the state is looking at what federal government is doing in recognition of the potentials of Ogun state in agriculture. “There are various irrigation systems at Oke Odan, Eggua and the one that we will start very soon at Ilobi, Erinja wards in Imeko Afon local government”
Filed Under: Agriculture