Makinde: We’ll make Oyo Modern Agribusiness Hub in  Africa

Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan

Oyo State governor, ‘Seyi Makinde, yesterday, reiterated his commitment to making the state a modern agribusiness hub in Sub-Saharan Africa, just as he promised to give more support to farmers and improve infrastructure and security with a view to attracting large investments in agriculture to the state.

Makinde stated this while offering opening remarks at an event themed, “Agribusiness for Food Security Initiative”,  in  Ibadan, noting that his government remained resolute on bringing prosperity to the state and would continue to support youths.

The governor said in his Roadmap for Accelerated Development,  that he had thought of how to take the people from poverty to prosperity, stating that given the state’s comparative advantage of arable land, it was clear that embracing agriculture was the way to go, but it was also obvious that using the old method of farming would not produce the desired result. 

He said: “We are a state that was doing poorly on economic indices. The internally generated revenue was low for a state that has a rich history of economic development and we are close to the nation’s commercial capital. Lagos is not far from here. Every month, they do an IGR of about N65bn and here, when we came in, it was N1.8bn but we have now managed to push it close to N4bn. So, in terms of where we want to be, we have not scratched the surface yet.

“So, we had to find a way to stimulate the economy quickly. Our comparative advantage is the arable land. If we are to achieve accelerated development, we have to build our economy around this advantage. The 11 local government areas in Ibadan are double the size of the whole of Lagos Sate. So, it was a no-brainer that we have to leverage agriculture and agribusiness, but we are not content with practising agriculture like it was done in the past.

“We need an economic solution driven by data. We need an achievable strategy powered in a new way of thinking about agriculture. One of the platforms set up to drive the new way of thinking about agriculture was the Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency (OYSADA) headed by Dr. Debo Akande.

“So, I will also say that Dr. Akande has been instrumental in pushing the new way of practising agriculture in Oyo State and I can tell the whole world that this is yielding dividends. To achieve this, we will focus on partnerships to drive agribusiness, working with the private sector and development organisations.”

Governor Makinde said for Oyo State to become a modern agribusiness hub in Sub-Saharan Africa would require the attraction of large investments in agriculture, adding that to attract the kind of investments needed by the state; it would need to provide adequate infrastructure and security.

He said though the state under his watch had done so well with the provision of infrastructure and security, it would still do more to buoy investors’ confidence.

On the Fasola Industrial Hub, the governor said developing it had provided the state a learning opportunity that would come handy as the state embarks on building Eruwa and Akufo industrial hubs.  

“Over the last five years, our economy has received a boost in IGR and GDP. However, to achieve the level of food security we envisage, more is required. Food security, by business, has a demand and supply side. To achieve equilibrium, the supply of research, innovation, partnership should match availability and accessibility,” he added.

He lauded the IITA for helping the state with high quality seeds which are propelling increased productivity in the state.

Delivering his keynote address, a former President of Nigeria, who is also an Honorary Ambassador of IITA, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, said agribusiness would play a vital role in the future of the country.

Obasanjo said the federal government should not be directly involved in agribusiness since the states have the landmass, resources, manpower, innovations and the infrastructure to develop holistic strategies for food security.

He commended efforts of women in agribusiness and also encouraged them to do more as food security and food nutrition would go a long way in providing more employment, boost the foreign exchange and increase in internally generated revenue.

The Africa Continental Director, CGIAR/ Director General IITA, Dr Simeon Ehui, in his welcome address, said the forum was aimed at addressing pressing issues on food security and to drive positive changes by leveraging major stakeholders to ensure a sustainable future for the present and next generation.

He added that collaboration, innovation and shared commitment are crucial to achieving food security, stressing that agribusiness development is necessary in the whole of Africa.

In his presentation, the Executive Adviser to the Governor on Agribusiness, International Cooperation and Development, Dr. Debo Akande, underscored the necessity of infrastructure development in achieving food security, stating that there could not be agricultural transformation without rural infrastructural transformation.

Some of the beneficiaries of Oyo State Youth Entrepreneurship in Agribusiness Project (YEAP), Ibukunoluwa Tubi and Dolapo Opekun, lauded the initiative which has brought hope to youths and thanked Governor Makinde for empowering and supporting youths.

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