In order to promote the production of rice in Ogun State, especially the ofada species, Governor Ibikunle Amosun has disclosed that he has approved the acquisition of three rice mills by the state.
He said the state is known for rice production, adding that the state is working hard to ensure that rice produced in the state has a comparative advantage over others and is promoted in such a way that it will be an earner of foreign exchange for the country.
Amosun made this known while speaking at the Trade Promotion ad Knowledge Fair organised by Federal Government and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)- Assisted Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) in Abeokuta.
Amosun, who was represented at the programme by Adepeju Adebajo, Commissioner for Agriculture in the state, said the fair was coming at a time when every hand is on deck to move agriculture forward in the country through the agricultural promotion policy and the National Economic Recovery and Growth Programme of the Federal Government, which he said is in tandem with one of the cardinal programmes of the Ogun State government aimed at increasing agricultural production and industrialization.
He appreciated the IFAD assisted VCDP contribution to agricultural development, stressing that the market led approach of the programme is in agreement with the state programme of industrialisation through increased agricultural productivity.
The Governor stated that the state’s payment of counterpart fund of N124million for 2014 and 2015 facilitated a drawdown of N420million which has facilitated the provision of cassava and rice processing equipment to six farmer organisations in Yewa North, Ijebu North East and Ifo local governments. He said it also facilitated the provision of agro-input such as fertilizers, cassava cuttings, rice seeds and herbicides for 3,044 farmers in five local governments, and construction of cassava and rice processing centres in Obafemi-Owode and Yewa North local governments and the development of 500 hectares of farmland for cultivation of cassava and rice across the five local government areas among others.
The governor added that the payment of 2016 and 2017 counterpart has been approved and released, stressing that the state is prepared to replicate the VCDP model across the entire state.
In recent time, according to him, agricultural value chain has become topical in the promotion of sustainable agriculture in Nigeria, noting that agricultural activities should not stop at production level.
He said consideration should be given to processing as it prolongs the shelf life of products and guarantees good reward for farmers’ efforts.
Amosun added that the state recently procured tractors and land clearing equipment to complement the existing fleet and make agricultural; equipment accessible to the state’s teeming farmers.
However, he said youths in the state are not left out of the required sustainable empowerment through agriculture.
“In this connection, this administration has embarked on youth empowerment initiative through the establishment of a Model Farm Estate at Owowo, aimed at resuscitating the old farm settlement scheme of the defunct Western Region of Nigeria,”
He said the estate in this first phase, accommodates 80 direct participants while it also offers indirect employment to over 200 farm workers.
Amosun also stated that the estate has facilities for fish production, egg production and smallholder irrigation facilities for off-season farming along 200 hectares of arable land in the first instance, stressing that work is also in progress at creating an agricultural hub around this estate with the development 2,000 hectares of land for cassava production.