Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun has bagged the Governor of the Year in Agriculture Award for the second consecutive time at the Nigeria Agriculture Awards (NAA) 2021 held at Sheraton Hotel and Towers in Abuja on Tuesday.
The NAA is a ceremony that climaxed the annual Feed Nigeria Summit (FNS) supported by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, African Development Bank (AfDB) and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
The summit is a flagship Nigerian agricultural sector convocation that provided a unique platform for stakeholders to support the efforts of government at all levels to enhance the drive for self-sufficiency in agricultural production in Nigeria.
The 2021 edition of the summit congregated national and international stakeholders in agriculture led by the Honourable Minister for Agriculture, Alhaji Sabo Nanono.
In his remarks, governor Abiodun represented by the Hon. Commissioner for Special Duties, Barr. Femi Ogunbanwo and Hon. Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr. Adeola Odedina (who also bagged the 2021 Agro Commissioner of the Year Award), reiterated the resolve of the state government to take the lead in strategic and deliberate partnerships with the private sector..
He added that it involved all development partners to the deliver the gains of the renewed focus on agriculture and the lead position of Ogun State as the largest Agro-Industrial Hub, linking all actors including smallholder farmers in the Agro-Industrial Sector.
He further affirmed that the ongoing Cargo Airport, which is expected to provide a new level of agro investment opportunities to all stakeholders, would be delivered as promised.
“It is pertinent to note that Ogun State agricultural agenda is tailored towards the agricultural agenda of the Federal Government of Nigeria, as being implemented by the Honourable Minister of Agriculture, Alhaji Sabo Nanano.
“This especially in the areas of support to smallholder farmers, job creation, food and nutrition security, agricultural industrialization and linkage of growers and farmers to the industrial process, in an innovative value chain approach.
“Whatever we have achieved in the agriculture industry today is a result of the benevolence and support of the federal ministry of agriculture and rural development. We currently have one of the highest number of beneficiaries in the CBN/Federal Government Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) in Cassava, and have been listed for other commodities.
“In the last six months the federal government has trained our extension workers, cleared land for youth programmes, donated and equipped a brand new veterinary hospital, provided inputs for rice and cassava farmers, and supplied processing equipment to farmer groups.
“As of today, the response of the good people of Ogun State to these supports have been gratuitous and has cemented our ranking as the largest hub for industries (including agro-ventures) in Nigeria, the largest egg and broiler producer, largest producer and exporter of lemon grass oil, largest hub for aquaculture in West Africa (according to FAO) and many others.
“In line with our resolve to partner with the private sector and provide enabling environment for investments and agribusinesses, we have become the world epicenter as a dependable host and partner.
“Especially with the government initiative of establishing the cargo airport to supplement the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zone (SAPZ) of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and other donor funded projects including the IFAD/FGN Value Chain Development Project (VCDP), in which our state has recorded tremendous success with 12,000 beneficiaries supported with technology, inputs and credit.
“The cargo airport will be delivered to global agricultural value chain actors and players by next year.
“As a government, we have a firm belief in inclusive agricultural opportunities that will not cut out smallholder farmers, youths and women. These categories have been deliberately empowered with knowledge and appropriate linkage that will enable them take their share of the new wealth and opportunities in Ogun Agriculture, which puts them in the best position to supply services and raw materials to support the numerous agro-industries in Ogun State and beyond.
“The Ogun State Economic Transformation Project (OGSTEP) aimed at supporting 40,000 smallholder farmers and Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (N-CARES) are two major World Bank Projects that are fully operational in the state to support our agricultural agenda.
“The Agro-Processing, Agricultural Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement (APPEALS) Project is another World Bank project that is in view. Activities have also kicked off for the establishment of an Integrated Farm Estate, Garri Packaging Plant and a 200-Trainee Soil-Testing Programme, which are federal government agricultural pilot programmes through the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA).
“We have signed a good number of MoUs with National and International Development Partners such as IITA, HarvestPlus and a host of other private sector partners on private sector led initiatives, which has provided the necessary trust needed by investors.
“In March 2020, I signed an Executive Order on the Framework for Responsible and Inclusive Land Intensive Agricultural Investment (FRILIA), with the support of World Bank, to further safeguard investors, farming communities and agricultural value chain actors, in ensuring access to land, improved investor-community relations and even distribution of job opportunities in farming communities.
“Our intervention in the agriculture sector, which started at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, was not hampered, as investments in upgrade of hitherto abandoned locations/facilities, enrolment of people that were displaced from other sectors into the agriculture sector, ensured that we did not starve, neither did we import food during the pandemic.
“Our first set of beneficiaries of support in the cassava and broiler sectors did very good businesses with factories/offtakers, and contributed to food and nutrition security in the state and beyond.
“On assumption of office two years ago, one of the first decisions we made was to validate the employment of over 100 extension agents, to put the number at six extension agents per local government, in addition to the thousands of lead farmers and facilitators that have been trained.
“The Planting Materials Palliative (PMP) that started at the onset of the pandemic, and which is continuous, targets 40,000 smallholder farmers. We also keyed into the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative that supplied fertilizer to target 10,000 farmers,” His Excellency remarked.
Others stakeholders at the summit included top officials of the federal ministry of agriculture and rural development; representatives of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); National and International Development Partners; Representatives of IFAD/FGN VCDP Youth Farmers Groups; members of the Diplomatic Community, and Private Farms and Agro-Investors.
While at the awards event, the Ogun State delegation was led by the Honourable Commissioner for Special Duties, Barr. Femi Ogunbanwo, and included the Honourable Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr. Adeola Odedina; Permanent Secretary, Ogun State Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Dotun Sorunke; Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Agriculture, Hon. Tolu Bankole.
Also, Director of Finance and Accounts, Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Tunde Aregbesola; Director of Administration, Mr Ojo; State Programme Coordinator, IFAD/FGN Value Chain Development Project (VCDP), Mr Samuel Adeogun; and representatives of IFAD/FGN VCDP Ogun Youth Farmers Group.
Other stakeholders were representatives of Access Bank Plc; Trade Advisor (Agriculture and Mining Sector) to the UK Department of International Trade UK, Mr. Seyi Adepoju; Country Manager, HarvestPlus, Dr. Paul Ilona; Programme Manager, IITA Cassava BASICS II Project, Prof. Lateef Sanni; representatives of National and International Development Partner/Donor Organizations such as USAID, Flour Mills Plc, Olam International, Feed Future, AFEX; Private Farms such JB Farms and Agro Ltd, AA Universal Agro Industries Ltd, among others.