The Osun state Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola on Thursday said his administration was fully committed to developing agriculture value chain in all strata.
He said that the government had created an enabling environment for agric businesses to thrive such that more youths and investors youths can earn a living and create employment through the establishment of cottage industries in the state.
The Governor stated these while flagging off the Year 2020 Planting at the State Government Secretariat, Abere, Osogbo.
No fewer than 6,000 farmers benefitted from the various farm inputs, equipment and agriculture facilities distributed by the government.
Addressing the gathering at the flag-off ceremony, Governor Oyetola said the government considered it necessary to support all farmers to boost agricultural production as part of efforts to ensure food sufficiency and availability of raw materials for industries in the state.
Oyetola who maintained that the administration understands the importance of farmers in developing the economy of the state, disclosed that the government had engaged captains of industry to off-take farm produce in the area of arable crops, livestock, among others so as to make agribusiness more profitable.
He said the state had strengthened collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)/Nigeria Cassava Grower’s Association (NCGA) Osun Chapter and was firming up plans to distribute Agro-chemicals, fertilizers, and herbicides to over 2, 000 farmers through the Anchor Borrower Programme, which previously took care of 611 cotton growers across the state in the 2019/2020 season.
He stated further that the government had approved the release of funds to the Federation of Fadama Community Associations (FFCA) to offset the outstanding balance of two John Deere Tractors and other complimentary implements to support the community for the Year 2020 planting season.
According to him, the state was also making Power Tiller available to rice farmers at subsidized rate, in line with the cardinal goal of food security and sufficiency of the administration.
“In the face of dwindling revenue generation from Crude Oil, which has been the mainstay of the nation’s economy, this challenge presents a great opportunity for serious and would-be farmers to take advantage of.
“In view of the above, our government considers it necessary to support all farmers in the State to boost agricultural production, which will ensure food sufficiency and availability of raw materials for our industries.
“In the previous years, our supports were in form of subsidised inputs. But this year, we are giving agricultural inputs such as maize seeds, cassava cuttings, vegetable seeds, lime, fingerlings, and Knapsack sprayers free to farmers to cushion the effects of COVID-19 on all the citizenry within and outside the State.
“Also, arrangements are in top gear to disburse soft loans to small and medium scale enterprises at a reduced interest rate through the Bank of Agriculture (BOA).
“I wish to emphasize that the State Government has great concern for their welfare and wellbeing, hence the distribution of the inputs freely as palliatives to cushion the effects of COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our livestock farmers are not left out. There is a World Bank Project called Livestock Productivity and Resilience Support Project (L-PRES) to support livestock farmers in the State, which will take off this year, God willing.
“Our state is one of the 15 beneficiary states of the project. Our Osun Broiler Outgrowers’ Production Scheme (OBOPS) is on-going. We are preparing for its further expansion to accommodate more participants”, Oyetola added.
Governor Oyetola commended the federal government’s interventions and contributions in supporting the state in its resolve to revamping the agriculture just as he urged farmers to continue to join hands with the government of the state to actualise the dream of food security and sufficiency.
“At this juncture, it is important to appreciate the interventions of the Federal Government in diversifying the national economy through agriculture. I am also using this opportunity to thank all our critical development partners and well-meaning individuals who have been very supportive in the drive to take agriculture in the State of Osun to the next level.
“I urge all farmers in the State to join hands with the government of the state to actualise the dream of food sufficiency”, he said.
In his remarks, the Commissioner of Agriculture and Food Security, Mr. Adedayo Adewole, commended Governor Oyetola for his commitment to the well-being of farmers in the state.
He said the Ministry was partnering with private sector and well-meaning individuals to revive the agriculture sector in the state.
Adewole described agriculture as the way to go if the nation was serious in its quest to diversify the economy, saying Osun had been making waves in its efforts to make agriculture more profitable for the farmers.
“There is no doubt that our Governor is committed to the overall well-being of our farmers and is not leaving any stone unturned to achieve this feat.
“In supporting the efforts of the state government to alleviate burden of farmers, enhance food security, employment generation and poverty eradication, the ministry had collaborated with principal partners to achieve these goals”, Adewole added.
The Branch Controller, Central Bank of Nigeria, Osogbo branch, Mrs. Ajuma Madojemu, applauded the administration of Governor Adegboyega Oyetola for turning around the socioeconomic fortunes of the state for the betterment of the citizenry.
Madojemu said the bank was aware of the prompt intervention of the government to reposition agriculture and make the sector the state’s economy mainstay.
She maintained that, the bank in recognition of its role as an “enabler” in the economy, had always provided either solely or in conjunction with the federal government, an environment to quicken the pace of economic development, saying, “one of our recent development intervention programs is the Anchor Borrowers Programme aimed at enabling the nation reduce its huge food import bill and conserve our foreign reserves”.
Madojemu said, “The Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) was launched by President Muhammed Buhari on 17th November, 2015 with the aim of linking smallholder farmers with Anchors (processors) who would ensure a ready market for farm produce as Anchors guarantee purchase of whatever the farmers produce. Stakeholders in the Anchor Borrowers Programme include the Central Bank of Nigeria, participating Financial institutions, insurance companies, farmers, Anchors (Processors) service providers etc. In addition, the ABP loan is majorly in kind rather cash; as such , inputs and services are provided to the farmers directly.
“In Osun State some groups of farmers had benefitted from the ABP programme, these include fish, poultry, rice and cotton farmers. Today, 1342 cassava farmers in the State will join the list of beneficiaries of the CBN ABP Programme”, she added.
The Chairman, Nigeria Cassava Growers’ Association, Dr David Ogunsade, expressed gratitude to the state government for making farmers’ welfare priority.
He said: ” I have to thank the government for its positive interventions to boost production of cassava crops as we have received inputs, chemicals and fertilizer for about 1346 farmers from various local governments in the state.
“We have resolved to use all the inputs for our agricultural activities as we are committed to increase our own production in Osun to over 2million tons so as to be able to compete with our sister states”, he stressed.
The Chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Osun state chapter, Alhaji Sulaiman Araokanmi, hailed the state government for uplifting the standard of living of farmers in the state since assumption of office.
The event was attended by the wife of the Governor, Mrs. Kafayat Oyetola; Deputy Governor, Mr. Benedict Alabi; Speaker, Osun State House of Assembly, Hon. Timothy Owoeye; Secretary to the State Government, Prince Wole Oyebamiji; Chief of Staff to the Governor, Dr. Charles Akinola; Head of Service, Dr. Olowogboyega Oyebade among others.