BY: MOMODU KAZEEM
The fact that Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun is very much interested in agriculture started to manifest when he came on board two years ago. He felt something drastic must be done about food security of the state. Indeed, his thinking and policy thrust was anchored on the fact that modern agriculture is dependent on mechanization and good inputs aimed at propelling aggressive agricultural programmes that would guarantee food security in and outside of the state and raise a new generation of farmers. And to further demonstrate its commitment to the Agriculture sector it allocated a whopping sum N15Billion to the Agriculture sector in the state.
This was with a view to making Ogun state self-sufficient in food production, boosting its income generation as well as creating employment opportunities for the people, particularly the teeming youths. Ogun and Abiodun’s agricultural revolution drive was patterned after the agricultural policy of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government, aimed at shifting the country’s economy from its monolithic oil-based status to a more plural one with the agric sector playing the lead role.
To this ends, the state government embarked on the following areas of interventions by strengthening Ogun agricultural linkage programme, with over 85,000 registered interests from farmers including youths and unemployed graduates, in Agricultural Value Chain Programmes cut across Nine (9) Agricultural commodities (Cassava, Maize, Rice, Fishery, Poultry, Cattle, Piggery, cotton and Oil Palm). Also, the Central Bank of Nigeria and Ogun State Anchor Borrowers Programme where over 4,565 beneficiaries were linked to inputs and credit to the tune of N959,896,245.00 in the Cassava Value Chain, while 1,081 beneficiaries linked to inputs and credit to the tune of N243,973,052.00 in the Rice Value Chain.
In Maize Value Chain, first Batch of 50 Beneficiaries were also linked to inputs and credit to the tune of N9,123,050.00, while in Cocoa Value Chain, the state government under the leadership of Prince Dapo Abiodun provided over 10,000 hectares of lands for cocoa production at Iwoye-Ketu, with first batch of 44 Beneficiaries linked to inputs and credit to the tune of N15,135,977.00. Indeed, no fewer than 11,099 registered applicants were in line to be first batch beneficiaries of linkage to inputs and credit in five other commodities which include; Fisheries (720), Oil Palm (750), Poultry (8,084), Piggery (1,245), and Cattle (300).
About 1647.19 hectares of land were cleared out of 2400 hectares slated for 2,400 Youths, including unemployed graduates in Cassava Production opportunities, while additional 3,000 hectares of land planned for 2021, to enable more inclusiveness. In fact, 5,990 people benefited from CBN Intervention Programmes in the state, which included the Agribusiness Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS) in Poultry, Fisheries and other Commodities; and Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (ACGSF).
Other intervention include, the flag off of 2020 Planting Season in March last year at the onset of the novel Covid-19 Pandemic and the launching of Ogun State Government Free and Improved Planting Materials Palliative Initiative for smallholder farmers with 3,078 beneficiaries in 2020; while second phase is proposed to kick off in the 2021 Farming Season. The State also launched the Fertilizer Palliative Initiative for smallholder farmers, with 2,954 beneficiaries in 2020. And continuing support to Production and Processing Locations in the Food and Farm Sector in the State.
Price Dapo Abiodun’s passion for agricultural sector, including the recruitment of over 100 Extension Workers and Provision of Extension Kits (Spring Balance, Measuring Tapes, Field Bags, Rain Coats, Rain Boots, Field Diaries for Extension Agents and Block supervisors) for extension Workers, for the first in 16 years, to strengthen Extension service Delivery through Ogun State Agricultural Development Programme (OGADEP). At least, 45,125 Ogun state farmers reached with Extension services, including varied Agricultural Technologies, in the year 2020.
It also conducted capacity building, training for third batch of Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) for Cassava beneficiaries in the state, training of 20 OGADEP Extension Workers and 2,520 Farmers on Cassava Production and Weed Management, in collaboration with German International Cooperation (GIZ), in March 2021. Also, 500 lead farmers on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) on crops and fertilizer usage, in collaboration with OCP-Africa, benefited in training on the June 2020, while about 357 Ogun State Agricultural Development Programme (OGADEP), Extension Agents and Farmers on Pod Borer Resistance (PBP), Cowpea were trained in July 2020 and Pre-Season Step-Down Training of first 5,000 Cassava farmers under the CBN/Ogun Anchor Borrowers Programme, held in July 2020.
One radical departure from steps taken by the present administration-led by Prince Dapo Abiodun from the previous administration is the resolve to teach the farmers what a current, modern implementation is and how to apply modern methods in doing things. Thus, it was surprising when the state government recently signed the Executive Order on Framework for Responsible and inclusive Land Intensive Agricultural Investment (FRILIA), to promote and encourage land based opportunities in the state. That expression of interest was received from over 400 private firms to collaborate with Ogun State to provide Farm Mechanization Services, Input Service Delivery and in the Development of key Value Chains, which include Cassava, Rice, Fish, Poultry, Cattle, Dairy among other commodities.
The State governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun while commissioning Agroshop at State Secretariat Oke-Mosan on 12th February 2021 – a one stop shop for sale of fresh farm produce and value added products; and agribusiness information and linkage centre for individuals interested in Agricultural value chain opportunities in the state. The Agroshop which was donated by partner-Harvest Field industries, the governor explained that the gesture would boost the required personnel to drive the reforms of the Agricultural value chain in the State.
It cannot be a disputable point that the broiler scheme of the state empowered about 54 pilot youths in the state that had successfully completed three cycles of broiler production with each making profit of N150,000 per cycle for three cycles. The present administration accomplished success with the linkage of 4,462 participants to inputs and credit to the tune of N700million. Under the Ogun State/Federal government/IFAD Assisted Value Chain Development (VCDP) took things to another level wholly. But that was not altogether; 394 maize farmers, 54 rice farmers and 21 poultry farmers benefited from the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) through the CBN.
No wonder, in December last year, the Ogun state Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun breezed into the Conference Room of Sheraton Hotel, Abuja, in a glare of grandeur. Both local and international stakeholders in Agriculture rose up as he was decorated with the Best Governor of the year in Agriculture, a befitting tribute to the months of endless toils, up and down and triumphs in a pandemic year. Especially, the innovations in farming, farming techniques and technologies and agribusiness deriving from Abiodun’s ISEYA mantra of Infrastructure, Social Welfare and Wellbeing, Youth Empowerment, Culture and Religion had not gone unnoticed.
It is truism that no matter what one does, he or she will be criticized. However, the good thing about the Ogun State governor is that he does not allow the fear of criticisms to deter him, and not allow the cynics and sycophants to disturb the good work of the governor. The works embarked upon by the state government have been felt everywhere and seen by the people of the state in general. No amount of intimidation could deter the present government in achieving its aims in transforming the State.
The “ISEYA” mantra of the present administration is for the development of the state, and with the level of development in the state if the cynics is criticizing, it means that they have been blindfolded to see the work so far in the state and even the posterity will judge and have to say something when seeing the level of infrastructural facilities being put in places by the present administration-led by Prince Dapo Abiodun.
He has recognized a major need; giving the citizens of this State the best of infrastructural facelifts and facilities and even a modern ones, also the governor’s numerous projects on the environment, agriculture, transportation, education and other sectors will continue to speak well of him, whether to contest for second term or not even after the expiration of his tenure as governor of Ogun State.
*Kazeem is of Feature Unit, Ogun State Ministry of Information & Strategy, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, Ogun State.