To tackle poverty, Ogun State is relying on inclusive agricultural growth in the rural areas. The aim is to increase the income of rural households.
Speaking during an online webinar, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr Samson Odedina said the government has taken steps to bolster food security by providing farmers with support and pursuing reforms to strengthen the industry.
The Commissioner said the impact of COVID-19 pandemic challenged the state’s economy, jobs, food and nutrition
He noted that the pandemic has shown how critical the food system was in ensuring resiliency.
To help farmers, the commissioner said the state is working with partners to distribute seeds and other inputs to help them produce fresh and healthy food, which were made available and accessible to residents.
With unemployment high across the country, he said Ogun is encouraging youths to venture into farming.
He said the government is working towards empowering a 1000 youths in various agricultural ventures to boost food security and agricultural production.
He said the government was determined to use agriculture to provide employment and income.
He said the government was ready to increase economic development opportunities and support entrepreneurs who are ready to launch agriculture and food systems projects and others who want to build their capacity to participate in the sector.
Odedina said the plan was to deploy substantial public resources and mobilize private investment to make the agricultural sector more competitive, as well as increase its value-added through agro-industrial activities.
So far, he said, the agriculture sector has grown exponentially and the positive trend was likely to continue.
The growth, he explained, had been very positive for the economy as well as for those whose jobs depend on agriculture.
According to him, the sector has seen palpable improvement, attracting domestic investment and increase in processing of agricultural goods.
Odedina attributed the development of the sector to the government goals of creating rural jobs and boosting food production migration through the improvement of socio-economic conditions across various agricultural areas of the state.
On the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Anchor Borrower’s Program (ABP), he explained that the funds from it are credited into the beneficiaries’ account, without passing through any intermediary.
He said direct disbursement was adopted because the beneficiaries entered into agreement with the apex bank and farmers’ organizations and that the beneficiaries must abide by the terms of the credit linkage.
He noted that the Ministry and farmers groups maintain a technologically-driven verified list of the processed and pending application for the Anchor Borrower’s Program, as it was “practically impossible to misappropriate or divert funds, as there was a validation exercise for each participating farmer, who is linked to the National Identify Scheme.
Another speaker at the webinar was the Team Leader, International and Rural Development, the Livelihoods Support and Development Centre, Prof Kola Adebayo.
He urged the government to sustain a partnership that will enable it to benefit from the expertise of researchers and specialists.
He said every efforts should be targeted towards making Ogun a platform for best practices, innovative solutions and technologies which will be applied on the ground in various value chains.
Adebayo urged the government to provide a greater focus on large-scale agriculture infrastructure development, while also encouraging private investment.
The Managing Director, AACE Foods, Temitope Jebutu, said the company sources raw materials from smallholder farmers in Ogun and transform them into spices, spreads, sauces and complementary foods
According to him, chili peppers, ginger, garlic, soya beans, and maize are among the products, AACE sources from smallholder farmers.
Through its innovative packaging, competitive pricing strategy and distribution approach, he said the organization has created a market for low-income farmers.
The Managing Director, Agro-Park Development Company Limited, Sola Olunowo, said his organization has provided a platform to share knowledge and experiences on innovations and encourage youths in agriculture. He said the focus is on investing in expanded agricultural research, ensuring farmers access to the market economy and improved infrastructure and improving food security.