The Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun has stressed the need for Nigeria to be self-reliant in food production, as this would not only ensure the availability of food and jobs to its citizens at all times, but also guarantee national security.
Governor Abiodun stated this on Monday, 4 May, at the flag-off of the 2020 Planting Season and Distribution of Inputs to the first batch of Cassava Value Chain Beneficiaries under the Anchor Borrowers Programme at the Farmers Market, Asero, Abeokuta.
The Governor noted that the current COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to nations’ closing of borders, has brought to fore the need for Nigerians to grow what they eat to guarantee food security and jobs.
“The fact that almost all the nations of the world have closed their borders has brought to fore the importance of the ‘grow what we eat’ agenda. We see the importance of self-reliance in food productivity.
“I am sure we are all now aware of the importance of and relationship between not only food production and security, but also the overall security of the nation in general and our dear State in particular,” he said.
Prince Abiodun maintained that his administration has taken steps to ensure that agricultural activities go on smoothly despite the COVID-19 restrictions, by allowing and providing support for food production, adding that as part of the State COVID-19-induced food challenge, it has modified the road-plan for agriculture for 2020 by including residential training of additional 5,000 youths in all the LGAs.
The Governor, who expressed delight with the progress made by the Anchor Borrowers Programme which he said has continued to receive huge acceptance from major stakeholders, added that it has so far recorded a total 60,000 registrations, thus indicating the ability to use agriculture and cassava crop as a means of providing jobs for the youth.
“3,500 Anchor Borrower Programme nominees in the State have been provided with funds and link with agricultural inputs and fields ready for tilling and planting.
“60,000 registrations have been recorded for seven crops and cassava recorded 25,000 applications. 2,497 farmers were credited with N500m in March 2020, by the CBN, while an additional payment of over N180m was credited to an additional 900 farmers in April, 2020,” the Governor submitted.
While noting that the State Government, in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria and the National Cassava Grower Association (NCGA), has put in place a technology-driven mechanism to checkmate sales and diversion of inputs, Governor Abiodun said each of the 2,500 youths who had registered for the Anchor Borrower Programme, would be linked to additional N530m and given 60 bundles of improved cassava stems, four bags of fertilizer and weed killers, while additional 2,500 hectares of land cleared in 16 locations of the agricultural zones would be allocated to them.
He said his administration would continue to encourage investors who would want to make mutually beneficial use of the State’s abundant resources and favourable geographical location to partner on achieving its mandates and goals by providing support for food production and processing, product development activities and the overall value chain.
In his remark, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr. Adeola Odedina, noted that the State was currently running the biggest Anchor Borrowers Programme in Cassava in the whole of Africa, saying that the programme which was an exemplary one ,was anchored on a mechanical planting system.
“We are running the biggest Anchor Borrowers Programme in Cassava in the whole of Africa. 27,000 farmers have applied for opportunities in cassava out of the 60,000 beneficiaries. This is the biggest Anchor Borrowers Programme on this continent. The Ogun State Anchor Borrowers Programme is exemplary,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of other beneficiaries, Mrs. Beatrice Akanbo, appreciated the State Government for the gesture, noting that it would go a long way in enabling them to contribute their quota towards making the State efficient in food production.