The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation were honoured by the Ogun State Government for their work on agricultural transformation in Ogun State in particular, and Africa in general.
Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibukunle Amosun presented plaques of honour to the three institutions during a courtesy visit to his office.
The visit to the governor came at a time when AATF organised a stakeholders’ meeting on cassava mechanisation in Abeokuta, Ogun State. The governor, who sent a delegation to the meeting, also invited the three organisations to his office for further discussion on possible collaboration in agriculture and other developmental areas.
Governor Amosun said the current realities (fall in oil prices and rising unemployment) facing Nigeria underpinned the need for the diversification of the Nigerian economy, emphasising that agriculture was the way to go.
He expressed readiness to further collaborate with the three institutions with the view to unlocking the agricultural potential of the state especially in areas such as cassava, maize, poultry, and aquaculture.
Dr Audu Grema, who spoke on behalf of the delegation explained the mission of the team to the state and also put in context the work of the Gates Foundation in Nigeria, and Africa in general with regards to agriculture and other sectors.
He thanked the governor for the warm reception and commitment to agriculture and expressed optimism that the team would be willing to partner the state government whenever the opportunity arises.
Located in South-West Nigeria, about one hour from Lagos; Ogun state is one of the states in Nigeria with abundant arable land and mineral resources. However, like several other states in the country, most of the arable land is untapped and a lot of youths in the state migrate to urban areas in search of white collar jobs which in most cases are not available.
Governor Amosun said he intended to reverse the rural-urban migration by making agriculture attractive.
“But this can only happen if the state and the country at large adopted mechanisation,” said Claude Fauquet, a Director with the Global Cassava Partnerships for the 21 century.
On the delegation to the governor were Alfred Dixon and Godwin Atser (from IITA); Dennis Kyetere, Emmanuel Okogbeni, Mavindidze Donald, George Marechera, and Abu Umar (from AATF); Enock Chikava, Lawrence Kent, Jacob Mignouna, and Audu Grema (from the Gates Foundation); and Claude Fauquet (from GCP21).