By Soyombo Opeyemi
“Our belief is that when our people are financially buoyant, the attendant purchasing power will ripple across our state’s economy and trickle down even to the market men and women…” – Senator Ibikunle Amosun (Wednesday, February 13, 2019).
Wednesday, 13th February, 2013 was another red-letter day in the history of Ogun State. It was the beginning of another epoch, when the state turned a new page in its quest to raise the standard of living of its people.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013 was the day the loud silence of 33 years in the agriculture sector was broken in Ogun State. In one iconic gesture, 86 pieces of multi-million naira land clearing and preparation equipment were launched by the state governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun. It was the first time since the creation of the state in 1976 that such quantum purchase would take place at one fell swoop. The farm machines include 4 CAT bulldozers, 30 MF 275 Xtra tractors, 33 Baldan Disc Ploughs, 15 Baldan Disc Harrows, 2 Baldan Rotary Slashers and 2 Baldan 4 Row–Planters.
According to Wikipedia online, the term tractor is mostly used to describe a farm vehicle that provides the power and traction to mechanize agricultural tasks.
The plough is a tool (or machine) used in farming for initial cultivation of soil in preparation for sowing seed or planting. The primary purpose of ploughing is to turn over the upper layer of the soil, bringing fresh nutrients to the surface, while burying weeds, the remains of previous crops and allowing them to break down. It also aerates the soil, allows it to hold moisture better and provides a seed-free medium for planting an alternate crop.
In agriculture, a harrow is an implement for breaking up and smoothing out the surface of the soil. Harrowing is often carried out on fields to follow the rough finish left by ploughing operations. The purpose of this harrowing is generally to break up clods (lumps of soil) and to provide a finer finish, a good soil structure that is suitable for seedbed use.
A planter is an agricultural farm implement towed behind a tractor, used for sowing crops through a field. Planters lay the seed down in precise manner along rows.
Slashers are essentially grass-cutting machines…
What, therefore, took place in Abeokuta on February 13, 2013 was the setting-out of Ogun State on the road to mechanized agriculture. With these machines, about 80 per cent of the burden of farming has been lifted off the shoulders of farmers.
Indeed, the third cardinal programme of the Senator Amosun-led administration is Increased Agricultural Production leading to Industrialization. This can only be achieved by supplanting subsistence farming with mechanized agriculture. The era of using cutlasses and hoes should gradually give way to the use of ploughs and harrows.
At any rate, the farming population is already aged and farm labourers are difficult to come by these days.
On the inaugurated equipment, Amosun had this to say: “We appreciate the need to make these implements easily accessible to our farmers. Towards this end, I wish to announce that the rate for hiring them has been subsidized so as to create a relief to our farmers. Operation and maintenance arrangements have also been made with the equipment suppliers to make the scheme sustainable.”
Some of the steps taken so far by the administration to revive agriculture and renew the interest of our youths in the sector include the following:
Resuscitation of Farm Settlement scheme with the commencement of a Model Farm Estate in Owowo. Complete rehabilitation of the moribund three government-owned fish farms located at Ilaro, Odeda and Ikenne. Production activities have since commenced on these farms. Restoration of the state government Central Feed Depot at Kotopo in order to stabilize the cost of livestock feeds in the market. Disbursal of agricultural loans to over a thousand farmers under the Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme. The state is about to commence the next phase of the scheme.
And to further prove that Ogun is not toying with the idea of reclaiming its glory in the agriculture sector, any genuine investor, local or foreign, interested in agriculture will have a discount of 80 percent on land acquisition.
This writer is particularly upbeat about the Model Farm Estate initiative of the Amosun administration. Just like the roads, the model farms will be of the Ogun Standard, which sets benchmarks for others.
As someone who practised agriculture, I knew the regrets in those days included lack of electricity, modern farmstead, potable water, access roads – which implied that we had to carry heavy baskets of farm produce on our heads and trekked kilometres to get to the market. Of course, we didn’t find all that funny at all; and we had to till the land with hoes and cutlasses…in addition to the burden of being cut off from civilisation! It’s not surprising that none of my generation returned to farm, including those who secured degrees in agriculture despite the interest of some of us in farming…
All that will now change in Ogun with the desire of the current government to revolutionize the sector. With other laudable schemes in the pipeline, including encouraging all year-round farming through the use of irrigation and total exploitation of the value chain provided by commercial agriculture (the governor keeps harping on this ‘value chain’), there is no doubt that it’s just a matter of time before Ogun takes its pride of place in agriculture in the country.
And today, Wednesday, February 13, 2019, exactly six years after the epoch-making event in the state capital, Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, had this to say to the past political office holders (2007 – 2015) from the grassroots, who live in the our agrarian communities:
“Our belief is that when our people are financially buoyant, they will be more empowered and the attendant purchasing power will ripple across our state’s economy and trickle down even to the market men and women. Therefore, today, we are making available over a billion Naira for the concluding payment of severance allowances by our administration.”
The hundreds of beneficiaries are essentially local dwellers from across the state. This naturally will boost agricultural, nay commercial activities in the rural areas and ultimately enhance the standard of living of the people.
We congratulate the governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, for another demonstration of foresight in the Mission to Rebuild Ogun State. After a storm comes a calm.
- Soyombo, a media practitioner, sent this piece from Abeokuta via firstname.lastname@example.org