Agbeyewa Farm Set to Enhance Food Security, Create Jobs in Ekiti

Gbenga Sodeinde in Ado Ekiti 

The Ekiti State Government has partnered with a private investor, Agbeyewa Farm, a division of Cavista Holdings, to enhance food security and job creation in the state.

The Cavista Agro-Allied investment programme under the aegis of ‘Agbeyewa’ 100 hectares cassava plantation is located at Ipao-Ekiti in Ajoni Local Council Development Area (LCDA) of the state.

This is just as the United States of America (USA) has expressed its readiness to collaborate with Cavista on the success of the agric programme for the benefit of the state and the entire nation on food security.

The Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Cavista Holdings, Mr John Niyi Olajide, said the partnership for the interventionist programme is demonstrated in the need for job creation and the development of rapid multiplication and distribution of improved varieties of cassava to enhance the availability and diversity of improved planting materials.

By investing in cassava production, Olajide contended that Ekiti State economy would improve tremendously and the country’s dependence on imported wheat flour would reduce, while there will be improvement in food security and economic growth, as well as access to ready market.

His words: “The aim of the partnership is to provide jobs for the mass of people in the state and we are doing this with the cultivation of 100 hectares of cassava and help farmers gain access to market. Our farmers will have no problem with marketing their products. If the farmers work on their own, they can cultivate two hectares but with the support of Agbeyewa Farms, they will improve their productivity to 10 hectares.”

“We are generating job opportunities and providing improved seedlings to the farmers to improve their means of livelihood. Farmers are wealthy people and so we are generating cassava revolution, we are doing big experiment with cassava production in the state,” he said, adding that with strong partnership with the state government, the organization has the capacity to cultivate 100 hectares of cassava and ensure zero post-harvest losses because of the ready market.

At the moment, over 400 people are gainfully employed on the farm with a focus on employing more and organising regular and efficient training programmes for them to make them stand on their own successfully.

Olajide contended that the security threats in the area would drastically reduce with the economic investment the company is making because the youths will be gainfully employed.

“The key to reducing insecurity threat in the area is investment, economic investment. By the time we engage the people productively, cases of insecurity will reduce,” the chairman stressed.

Specifically, the CEO noted that investment in agriculture and job creation were necessary antidotes to kidnapping and other security challenges in the country.

“The key to address all these insecurity is investment. The place we are used to be a kidnapping haven in Ekiti State. But look at what we have been able to do in that hundreds of hectares cultivated here. This is not where kidnappers come to. So, economic investment and job creation are the key to addressing insecurity.

“We are in the market as a critical stakeholder because of the attractions especially in the areas of food security, poverty alleviation, economic growth and essentially to contribute to the development of agricultural sector in the state,” he said.

He disclosed that over 400 persons work on the farm on daily basis, adding that: “In different times, thousands of people have worked on the farm and our goal is to make sure we employ tens of thousands more. We wouldn’t have to employ all of them as they can work as outgrows in our ecosystem. But like I said earlier, everything they produce we would buy.

“Agbeyewa is spearheading the development of vibrant and inclusive agro-allied with business model centred around the cultivation, aggregation and distribution of three key crops: cassava, yam and maize. In addition to this, cultivate a diverse range of crops such as vegetables, tomatoes, pepper, plantain, melon and many more.”

He stated that the footprint of the farm spans over 15,000 hectares in Ekiti State, with 8,000 hectares actively under cultivation.

In his own submission, the US Consular General in Nigeria, Mr David Greene, opined that the US is keen on establishing and strengthening partnership with the state particularly in the agricultural sector in the areas of diary farming, cocoa production and cassava production to increase export yields, ensure food security and mitigate post-harvest losses.

According to him, Ekiti State has the potentials to cultivate and export cassava in large quantities hence the partnership to assist in achieving the economic objectives of the state.

“We want to make cassava production more professional and develop the agriculture industry in Ekiti State by developing better farming methods,” he said, stressing that the US will introduce mechanisation to increase productivity and create jobs for the people.

The US Envoy, who spoke at Ipao-Ekiti in Ikole Ekiti Local Government Area of the dtate, where he led a team from the American Embassy on a visit to the Agbayewa Farms.

The US envoy, who was accompanied by the Consul General of the American Embassy, William Stevens, and some top embassy officials to the farm, was received by the chairman of CAVISTA Holdings, Olajide.

Greene described the farm as quite amazing, saying: “It demonstrates what is capable,” adding that: “We are all aware of the security and food security concern in the country. Agriculture in Nigeria is a credible potential, but it is underutilised. So through this project, investment and leadership like this, I think the lives of a lot of Nigerians can be changed for the better.

“United States is doing a lot in the sector, of course, I can’t tell you exactly what we might do in the future with the farm, but we have got a lot of investment in dairy farm, cocoa production in Ekiti State and elsewhere. USAID’s feed the future is doing a lot for us with Nigerian producers and of course we collaborate very closely with the donors, World Bank and others but we really focused on solving the agriculture challenges.

“So, with kind of innovations you see here, we all need to work together for the benefit of Nigerians. Moreso, it is going to help Nigerian lives, increase export yields, generally revolutionise the economy, given the potential the agriculture represents.”

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