By Bode Akinwumi

Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, says the commitment of the present administration in the state remains undaunted at repositioning the agriculture sector with the ultimate objective of ensuring food security and job creation.

The governor who made this known in Akure during the presentation of N215 million cheques and distribution of agricultural inputs to farmers under the Fadama III Additional Financing initiative, explained that the development would also transform lives and stimulate the economic space of the Sunshine State.

“We will create real wealth and our people will be set free from the pangs of hunger and deprivation.

“The sum total of this intervention is N215 million.This administration has been unequivocal in its determination to encourage our people to embrace agriculture.

“We are convinced that there can be no real development in our clime if this very important sector is neglected.

“It is equally our opinion anchored on empirical evidence, that agriculture, practiced with a philosophy of self reliance plays a pivotal role in the absorption of a considerable chunk of the vast army of the unemployed youths willing to participate in this realistic project,” he said.

The governor further explained that this scheme empowered 2000 farmers to cultivate about 2000 hectares of land for the production of high yield rice and cassava.

 

“There is no gainsaying the fact that this scheme will create jobs. And because this is not the usual propaganda aimed at forcing a non-performing government into the consciousness of the people, we are bold to assert that before long, there will be food security in the state,” he said.
Earlier the National Project Coordinator of FADAMA III Additional Financing Project, Mr Tayo Adewumi appreciated Governor Akeredolu’s partnership with the Federal Government and his unparalleled support to the success of the project which had attracted resources currently being utilized to cultivate over 3,000 Hectares of Cassava and 1,000 Hectares of Rice across the state.

He commended the governor whom he said had within his few months in office attracted over 200 million naira to support the over 2,000 farmers including Youth and Women in productive agriculture in the state

“Ondo State is yearly adding 50,000 metric tons of Cassava and 1,500 metric tons of Rice to the national food basket of our nation whose current importation figure stood at 2.3million tons.

“This output can be increased, if only we are able to produce rice 2-3 times in a year, increase our productivity per hectare through more improved agronomic practices, in addition, to increase the number of project beneficiaries which today stands at about 5,000 farmers in the state”, he said.

He stated that FADAMA III is aimed at sustainably increasing the incomes of FADAMA users through ramping up of production of four value chain crops of Rice, Tomato, Sorghum, and Cassava initially in six core States which include Kano, Kogi, Niger, Lagos, Anambra and Enugu, but now, effective in twenty-six states including Ondo State having met the eligibility criteria.

Represented by Mr Samuel Alabi, the National Project Coordinator ,FADAMA III AF Project, mentioned the projects activities to include capacity building for farmers on the use of modern agronomic practices; preparation and execution of business plan; starting production from guaranteed market and ensuring workable off-take agreement which would enable farmers to continue farming after the closure of the project.

Adewumi however, thanked Governor Akeredolu for bringing his experience to bear in Agricultural transformation in the state which according to him, is one of the surest way that would take Nigeria out of the current recession.

Also the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agric and Natural Resources, Engr Alex Aragbaiye, who noted that the implementation of FADAMA project in all its phases has been a success in the state, said over one billion naira had been disbursed to FADAMA farmers as grants during the implementation of the project between 2009 and 2013.

The funds, according to him were disbursed to over 180 FADAMA Community Associations (FCAs) to fund small scale community-owned infrastructures, productive assets, input supports, capacity building and advisory services for farmers.

“The FADAMA III Additional Financing Project which became disbursement-effective in the state in 2016 has development objectives to increase the income of land and water resources’ users on a sustainable basis.

“Under the FADAMA III Additional Financing, a total of 335 Business Plans worth 494.7 million naira were produced and submitted to the International Development Agency ,IDA, for consideration and release of fund, out of which the 215 million naira was distributed to farmers as first tranche today”, he stated.

Engineer Aragbaiye further explained that out of the N215 million, the sum of N197, 742,500 million will be used by the farmers for the cultivation of about 2,000 hectares of Cassava and Rice, while the balance will be used to start the setting-up of processing facilities for both Cassava and Rice.

He added that the Cassava Mills will be located at Elegbeka, Odigbo, Ore, Nigeria Cassava Growers Association, while the rice Mill will be located at Ogbese.

The Permanent Secretary also hinted that the State government has embarked on the construction of three Agricultural Equipment Hiring Enterprise, AEHE, Centres in Akure, Owo and Ore at a cost of N12. 9 million each, saying on completion, the Centres will be equipped by FADAMA with Agricultural machines, equipment and tools.

The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Agriculture , Pastor Akin Olotu had in his address assured farmers in the state of the commitment of the Oluwarotimi Akeredolu Administration at making farming exciting and stress-free by backing it up with appropriate and adequate  mechanization.

Olotu who pointedly told  the unemployed youth to stop chasing after nonexisting white collar jobs advised that any of the value chains of agriculture taken to would make one realise his ambition of a meaningful life.

Highlights of the programme include: inspection of various farm inputs, rice and cassava high yielding varieties, and distributions of cheques to 194 production clusters and groups with 1,969 members by Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu.