…says Agribusiness will benefit from state’s N1bn MSME credit initiative
As part of activities commemorating the first anniversary of the Governor Seyi Makinde-led administration in Oyo State, the governor, on Wednesday, flagged off the Youths in Agribusiness Project at the Rural Community Development Centre (RCDC), Aawe.
He declared that agriculture, an area where the state has comparative advantage, is being leveraged to expand its economy.
A statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, quoted him as saying that “there are a few things that if we do them correctly, we should be in the position to expand our economy through agribusiness.”
According to Makinde, in a bid to ensure that those things are done correctly, the government paid the counterpart fund of N350 million for the Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP), which will allow it to fix over 1,000 kilometres of rural roads.
The governor, who spoke at the 210 hectares facility with about 133 cultivatable hectares, decried how the facility had become moribund for years, noting that based on his experiment with Ajia, his village before he became governor, he knew what to do to restore the RCDC facility.
“There are two things we set to achieve. First is the expansion of our economy. Second is to stem rural-urban migration and third is to finally give jobs to our youths. So, what are the things we have to do here? First, we have to provide water, electricity and security. I give you the commitment that all of these will be provided immediately.
“There is the last thing I will like to provide. If I cannot get it through the state exco, I will provide it from my own pocket. I will provide Dstv here so that when you finish working and want to relax, you can watch Africa Magic and other interesting news channels. So, after we have been able to do this, you would not need to go to the town except you want to go and sell off your farm produce.
“This is not about any political party but about the good people of Oyo State. So, I want to encourage that we should face governance because politics and electioneering are behind us. It is now about delivering dividends of democracy to our people.
“I also want to thank the management of IITA for its support and initiative on agribusiness. You were with us when we went to the Republic of Benin to fashion out our roadmap for agribusiness and you are still here. So, I really thank you.”
The governor stated that the state is set to open up a lot of farmlands, adding that the upgrade of Eruwa and Akufo Farm Settlements to Farm Estates is due to begin in July 2020 and that the upgrade of other farm settlements will follow after the two models.
The governor also stated that with the appointment of the chairman of Oyo State Agri-Credit Corporation, Hon. Afees Jimoh, the state will revive the zonal offices of the corporation and provide funding to them, because according to him, access to funding remained central to the success of Agribusiness.
He added that the government will also launch the N1 billion MSME fund in a few days, promising to ensure that a percentage of the fund is set aside for players in the Agribusiness sector, so that youths under the initiative will have channels to look to for funding.
Speaking earlier, the Executive Adviser to the governor on Agribusiness, Dr. Debo Akande, said the flag off of the youth in Agribusiness project will change the narrative on how agriculture is done, noting that it will be a profitable business that will engage in production and processing in a modernised way.
“We are not just going to engage in production, we are seriously going to be working on processing. It is going to be modernised. This facility you are looking at has been moribund for years, we have chosen to resuscitate this. We will use it as Centre of Excellence for incubation of the young ones in Agriculture. We will use it to train, build and this is going to cut across the whole of the state as we go along.
“Permit me to thank the IITA for creating as much support as it is. We have been having discussions for close to around months now and this is the thing that it brought into fruition,” Akande said.
Also speaking, the Deputy Director General of IITA, Dr. Kenton Dashir, told the gathering that the institute and the state government have entered into a partnership which he said would yield positive results for agribusiness.
Some of the dignitaries at the event included the deputy governor, Engr. Rauf Olaniyan; the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Olubamiwo Adeosun; the Chief of Staff to the governor, Chief Bisi Ilaka; chairman of the Advisory Council, Senator Hosea Ayoola; the Deputy Director-General, IITA, Dr. Kenton Dashir and the Director, RCDC, Mrs. Mary Adefunke, among others.