The Governor of the State of Osun, Adegboyega Oyetola, said on Tuesday that his Administration remained a critical partner of the Anchor Borrower Programme initiative of the Federal Government as part of efforts to revamp the agriculture sector.
The Governor made this comment at the unveiling of Ekiti State Government Rice Pyramid Project, the signing of MoU between the State and the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria and the flag-off of 2021 wet season rice cultivation.
He disclosed that the rice component of the Osun Food Support Scheme was sourced from local rice sellers in order to encourage and empower local farmers in the State and beyond.
Oyetola said the Scheme, which enables the State to feed 30, 000 poor and vulnerable persons, will ultimately support food sufficiency programme, as farmers will be encouraged to double their efforts while Government serves as the off-taker.
He further disclosed the Administration’s readiness to unveil a new cocoa initiative that would empower 2, 000 young farmers in the State.
Oyetola added, “In two days’ time, we will be unveiling a new Cocoa initiative, aimed at empowering 2, 000 youths. We are doing this in collaboration with Afex Commodity and the Central Bank of Nigeria. The aim of the programme is to bring rapid development to Cocoa value chain and promote agro produce in the Cocoa producing States.”
He noted that the aim of the programme is to bring rapid development to cocoa value chain and promote agro produce in the cocoa producing States, adding that the government has also been working hard to support the Maize farmers, Cotton farmers and Cocoa farmers to make sure that the Anchor Borrower Scheme’s goals are realised even in the face of dwindling resources.
Governor Oyetola, who described agriculture as the most critical sector and bedrock of socioeconomic development, said, “By the nation’s potential and history, agriculture remains a critical but missing mainstay that we must all as a nation and the constituent States join hands together to find and sustain.”
Governor Oyetola commended President Muhammadu Buhari for graciously initiating the Anchor Borrower Programme to achieve food sufficiency in rice and other food crops, saying, “If, today, Nigeria has moved significantly to food sufficiency from where it was in 2015, rice production plays a significant role.”
According to him, President Buhari has not only initiated the Anchor Borrower Programme, he has also demonstrated leadership by giving it tremendous support that has made it possible to display gigantic rice pyramids in Niger, Kebbi and Gombe States, and to gather in Ekiti to launch the Ekiti State Rice Pyramid Project.
He said, “The novel success we have recorded in rice production as a nation in the past five years is evidence that we have the capacity as a nation to feed ourselves and turn our economy around. It is also proof that the President Buhari Administration means well for the people and the nation.
Oyetola congratulated Governor Kayode Fayemi on the unveiling of Ekiti State Government Rice Pyramid Project, saying “If agriculture worked for us as the mainstay of the nation’s economy in the First Republic, it will I work for us better now in the knowledge- and technology-driven 21st Century. We must all at the Federal, State and Local levels muster the political will to give agriculture its pride of place as a staunch source of food sufficiency and security as well as an employment generation and revenue earner.
“I commend the Ekiti State Government, RIFAN and all our rice farmers for rising up to the challenges of 2020, including the Covid-19 pandemic, and for putting all the requisite measures in place for a bountiful yield during the 2020 Wet Season Harvested Paddy.
“I urge all stakeholders to continue to engage meaningfully in research and training and re-training of personnel to build capacity for optimum results. We will also do well to provide all the necessary implements and support for our farmers to perform to their optimum”.
In his remarks, the host Governor and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, said the initiative was in line with the vision of the Administration to ensure massive food production which was also in tandem with the President Muhammadu Buhari’s agricultural transformational agenda.
He said his Administration has successfully demonstrated the need for the people to look inward towards improving and revamping agriculture sector with focus on improved rice production to ensure food security and economic prosperity.
“As a responsible and responsive government, we are encouraging our farmers to take full advantage of the programme to enhance their agriculture produce capacity.
“In the olden days, Ekiti used to be the leading rice producer for the entire Western Region, and beyond. We are working to regain our pride of place, and building a successor generation of players in the rice value chain that would ensure security and economic prosperity.
“I am sure we would put Ekiti rice on the world map as we have institutionalised commercial agriculture,” he added.
In their separate goodwill messages, the Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu; Kebbi State Governor, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu; Jigawa State Governor, Badaru Abubakar; and Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, lauded Governor Fayemi on the initiative, describing the move as timely, apt and prompt, particularly at a time the nation needs workable diversification with emphasis on agriculture to improve on its national economic plan.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Ekiti State Commissioner for Agriculture and Food Security, Mr. Olabode Adetoyi, said the initiative was conceptualised to tell the whole world that Nigeria could feed itself.
He noted that the initiative was also aimed at sending a strong encouragement signal to the people, particularly the young famers that the time has come for all to return to the farm as the scheme is embedded with high value chain capable of providing employment opportunities for the young ones.