Osun To Partner FG In Promoting Agriculture

The governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has reiterated his administration’s commitment to promoting agriculture to optimal level in the state.

He stated this last Tuesday at the launching of the O-REAP Youth Academy and the roll-out of Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GESS) programme on cocoa at Mukoro, in Ilesa-West Local Government Council Area.

Aregbesola, who was represented by his deputy, Otunba (Mrs) Grace Laoye-Tomori said that his administration has more interest in agriculture, which waswhy it encompassed three out of the six cardinal programmes of his government.

He further stressed that the interest of his government could not only be due to the importance of agriculture to the economy of the state, but also to the fact that agriculture was one of the cardinal programmes of the ruling party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the state, as encapsulated in its Six-Integral Action Plan.

“Three out of the Six-Integral Action Plan of the state government dove-tails into the agricultural sector of the economy directly or indirectly. These include, among others, the need to banish hunger, poverty and unemployment.

It is in realization of this that the State of Osun has taken the bull by the horns by injecting into the agricultural sector, a crop of enlightened and dedicated O-YES cadets. There is also the roll-out of Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GESS) on Cocoa Chain Development.

“The Government of the State of Osun, knowing fully well that agriculture is the main stay of the state’s economy and characterized by small holder farmers, focused on re-activating and rejuvenating the sector for it to perform the above role.

Some of the programmes and projects put in place to overhaul the sector are farm settlement, co-operative farming, large-scale farming and expanded land initiatives and additionally, the ceremony we are all witnessing today: O-REAP Youth Academy and Roll-out of Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GESS) on Cocoa Chain Development”, Aregbesola said.

He stressed that the development of agricultural sector along the entire food chain from production to processing and marketing of which the state was tending towards, was the in-thing the world over.

This, he noted, was aimed at creating wealth, employment generation and food security, which were all the traditional roles of the sector, adding that it was in that regard that the government of the State of Osun had keyed-in to all the transformation agenda of the Federal Government in agriculture viz GESS, roll-out on Fertilizer, Federal Government World Bank Expansion of Commercial Agriculture Development (CADP); Nigeria Incentive Risk-based System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) and in addition, the roll-out GESS on Cocoa Programme, which would be maintained by prompt payment of counterpart funds.

He noted that the government was doing its best to demonstrate its commitment to turning around the sector with the sole purpose of industrialising the state.

“I want to charge you all to take advantage of these enabling environment provided by our administration to transform the sector from the present peasant level to an industrial one.

“It is by so doing that you have reciprocated the kind gesture of our administration”.
I want to assure you all that the government of the State of Osun will do everything possible to support you with all the necessary resources along the entire agricultural-chain development, with the view of making the state to be food-secure”.

In his remark, the representative of the Federal Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Gbenga Oyemomi noted that Osun, being one of the three major cocoa producing states in the country, necessitated the Federal Government to distribute agricultural chemicals to farmers.

According to him, “Federal Government would contribute 25%, state; 25%, while the farmers would add the remaining 50%.
He stated that each of the chemicals to be distributed was put at N88,000, but that only N44,000 would be collected from the farmers.

“Government is planning to distribute 3.6 million hybrid cocoa pods, which will yield in two and half years.
This will make up two tonnes per hectare and produce high yield quality”

He added that out of the 35,000 cocoa farmers to be trained, 4,000 would come from the State of Osun
Oyemomi explained that the Federal Government was planning to establish a Cocoa Marketing and Trade Corporation to replace the Cocoa Marketing Board, which would be government-enabled, but private sector run, with the aim of increasing the state’s internally generated revenue.

The Commissioner for Agriculture and Food Security in the state, Mr. Wale Adedoyin noted that the government had taken bold steps to resuscitate agriculture through the establishment of the O’REAP Youth Academy.

In his words; “Government intends to raise young hands with interests in farming to replace the old hands and this will involve practical training with the aim of producing successful farmers”.

Revamping Osun’s Economy Through Agriculture

It is a universal phenomenon that any nation or state that cannot feed itself is no doubt heading for a doom. Food security has always been a serious concern to average Nigerian and the shortage of food has been sending bad signal that the country is heading towards crisis if drastic measure is not taken.

It is disheartening to know that no serious attention is paid to agricultural development, as virtually all the food consumed in country today has been found to be imported. Despite predictions that crude oil, upon which our financial capacity is based in Nigeria might dry up one day, much reliance is still being place on oil, just as agriculture of which the country was renowned for and used for the series of developmental projects soon after independence has now been jettisoned.

This is not due to lack of availability of fertile land in the country nor absence of manpower, but of lack of commitment on the part of our leaders, who believe in acquiring cheap oil money at the detriment of a sector that was responsible for the larger percentage of our economic growth before the advent of oil boom.

Agriculture is not only a means of providing food, it is also a viable sector for the manufacturing industry, yet it has been found to be the largest employer of labour in Africa. So if properly planned, the sector has the capacity to solve many of the country’s problem simultaneously and effectively.

Conscious of this fact and the need to take proactive measure to avert the looming food crisis, the administration of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola in the State of Osun immediately after its inauguration left no one in doubt about his commitment to develop the state through vigorous agricultural policy, by putting in place series of agricultural intervention programmes that can assist in exploring the agricultural potentials of the state to ensure massive food production and boost its economy. Osun Rural Enterprise and Agricultural Programme (OREAP) by design, is meant to drive the agricultural ministry and to serve as an interface among three ministries, which are the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Commerce and Empowerment and the Ministry of Finance for the development of the economy of the state, empowerment of the youths and ensuring massive food production.

OREAP within a short term was able to prepare a vast farm land of about 2,474.17 hectares last year and allocated same for the use of prospective farmers across the state. The intention is to promoting a private sector led market for agricultural inputs such as equipment services, Agro input dealers and seed companies/shops. Also the state government launched the Quick Impact Intervention Programme (QIIP) with a view to reaching the real farmers and provide them with necessary facilities. Through this alone, a sum of N153,265,000 was provided for 75 cooperative farmers groups that were spread all over the state as loans. Other support covers the planting of maize, cassava, poultry, fishing and those in vegetable and fruit planting, while support was also given to farmers, who specialized in processing Garri and flours.

Apart from the N153,265,000 loan to farmers under QIIP, the government was able to give another N500 million loan through the Bank of Agriculture, of which each farmer had access to the sum of N250,000 maximally and minimum of N100,000. The beneficiaries of the loan were about 4,000 prospective farmers, duly screened.

Besides financial supports, the government was able to render several other assistance to farmers; among these are provision of farm inputs in terms of seeds, chemicals, and fertilisers which was highly subsidised. It also procured fertilizers outside the federal government scheme, because it was discovered that the ones from the Federal Government are always being delayed till after the planting season.

Meanwhile, the state government has now expanded its horizon and QIIP is leading a manual land clearing for a 1,500 hectares, which is about 3,750 acres, targeted for clearing this year. So far, a sum of N120 million has expended on clearing about 1,600 hectare of land,roads upgrade, creating access road to farmlands and layouts.

Through this land clearing, more cluster farming is being encouraged, and there are now four farm clusters handled by QIIP this year at Ife-Odan (1,600 acres), Osuntedo (946 acres), Songbe (400 acres), and Kuta (500 acres). For the cluster farm in Ife-Odan, the target is to plant yams, but now, maize are being planted to preserve the already cleared land; at Osuntedo, Cassava and rice would be planted; at Songbe, low land rice would be planted, while in Kuta, vegetable and some other arable crops would be planted.

Aregbesola in his quest to realise the objective of the massive food production it has engaged the service of leading foreign expert in beef production training interested farmer on how to produce beef in a project “ O Beef ”aimed at ensuring high income from the venture.

Also, because of lack of maintenance culture, the state government has been able to key-in into the Federal Government Tractors Acquisition Scheme, under a private sector operating arrangement whereby the Federal Government would give a subsidy of 25 per cent and the state give a subsidy of 15 per cent and the farmers which drop down payment of 10 per cent. The remaining balance would be paid over the period of 36 months by the farmers, and the farmers own the tractors. The government of the state of Osun has paid a sum of N104 million as subsidy for 100 units of tractors and the tractors are now being expected anytime from now.

On poultry farming, a total sum of N340 million have been injected under a private scheme arrangement through Poultry Association of Nigeria. Under the arrangement, the private manager that was engaged moved round the poultry farms facilities and gave them all the necessary supports required, including maintenance fees. In that scheme alone, within the first to second circle, farmers have testified to have gain between N400,000 and N500,000.

To facilitate accessibility of farmers to their various farmlands, the government was able to open up 49 kilometres road last year, and this year, it has paid the sum of N200 million counterpart fund on RAMP through the partnership with the World Bank on Rural Access Mobility Project (RAMP), to increase rural road network to 500 kilometers.

On the market, the state government target supply of its farm produce into the Lagos state food market, aiming 10 percent of the over N3 billion daily food exchange value. To this end, a free rail service has been offered for farmers to transport their farm produce to Lagos free of charge and this is quite a feat that has never been achieved by any government, even in advanced country. Meeting the target of Lagos market would definitely and greatly improve the economy of the state.
In its bid to minimize waste of surplus farm produce, a network of 500 metric tonnes storage facilities is being put in place in Oyan and Osogbo while 120 metric tonne were been built in Iwo, Ede, Esa-Oke, Ilesa and Ife respectively.

The state government believed that by the time all of its efforts in the sector begin to yield, Osun would not only be able to feed itself, it would be the food basket of the nation and posses the capability to offer it teeming unemployed population a gainful means of livelihood.

Oyintiloye Olatunbosun, Assistant Director, (Community Forum) Bureau of Communication and strategy, office of the Governor, state of Osun.

Stimulating Interest In Agriculture

We know the pride of place that agriculture enjoys in the life of our people. We are therefore not surprised that the Rauf Aregbesola administration is pushing vigorously for the rejuvenation of the sector.

Of course, we know the state the sector was under successive administrations – the drudge that farming became. We are witnesses to the dearth of vital farming inputs and the virtual absence of credit to our farmers and the lack of institutional support of any kind. We saw the consequences in the abandonment of the farming profession by the young – the consequence of which the state, nay nation is now saddled with the population of aging farmers.

The background obviously informed the setting up of an expert committee early in the life of this administration to identify the problems of the farmers.  The report of the expert committee was a most disconcerting verdict: the state agriculture is hampered by financial limitations, poor road infrastructure and dearth or inadequate storage facilities.

We consider it a tribute to the administration of the Aregbesola administration that it resolved very early in the day to tackle these challenges frontally by creating the Osun State Rural Enterprise and Agricultural Project (O-REAP). The development not only put agriculture and rural development on the front burner, the idea of establishing an institution which seeks to stimulate interest in agriculture by removing the age-long problems that have constrained production is a radical departure from the past. The coming of the agency is a signal to the new dawn promised by the Aregbesola administration to revolutionalise agriculture in the state.

Of course, we are no less enthused by the Quick Impact Intervention Programme (QIIP) of the state government under which farming inputs were distributed to framers including the 1,000 acres of land cleared for rice production and which have been taken over by co-operative farmer groups.

Taken together with the opening up of a number of rural roads – the vital arteries for transporting produce from farm gates to the market place, it seems easy enough to see signs of a new beginning. The latter is on record to have earned the state government commendation from development partners.  Obviously, these are critical enablers for rejuvenating the sector.

Without them, the vast economic potentials of the state would never be realised, as only a strategic turn-around of the sector would put the state in good stead to serve as food basket of the nation as well as stimulate agro-allied industries.

These are however only the foundation – the beginning. Stimulating interest in agriculture involves massive development of road infrastructure.  Happily, the state government is already doing something here.  The state government can also assist farmers to  access to vital inputs such as farm tools and pesticides. Again, the evidence is that it is already doing so much.

By buying up their products to shore up prices when necessary, the state government can help guarantee price support to farmers. We believe there is a lesson to take from the experience of the defunct marketing boards. There is a lot the state government can do to make agriculture attractive to the young ones.

Having said that, there are things the government will never be able to fully take on, no matter how well-intentioned. One of this is the provision of credit for farmers. This is the job of banks and lenders. The other is the development of agro-based industries. This is the province of private investors. This is where the state government needs to partner with the private sector and the banks. We consider the partnership to be vital to providing an enduring framework for sustaining interest in agriculture. Happily, all of these are encapsulated in the vision of Governor Aregbesola and his sworn mission to banish poverty from the state.

It’s well!

Osun Aiming High In Agriculture

I am quite impressed with the thrust of Queen Bee Production for agriculture in Osun State.My experience at the Cooperative Farmers’ seminar held at Leisure Spring Hotel between December 8-9, 2011 made me to make this statement.

For instance, the Food Laboratory project slated for 2012 in the state is so timely and necessary. I’m a farmer and a food processor and I just got a quote for independent food product analysis at the rate of N38,000 per product. This is rather huge for an average processor in Osun State and perhaps barrier forming, if you like.

The queen bee project too amongst listed activities for 2012 is also unique and fantastic giving the present pollination activities in Nigeria and Osun is provided mainly by insects, wind, wasps, etc which accounts for 20 per cent of pollination activities, nationwide.

With queen bee production activity in Osun, the ecological balancing food production will be positively moderated, as bees in major food producing countries of the world account for 80 per cent pollination activities.

Osun State is now laying a foundation to reap higher qualitative and quantitative yield in agricultural products.Finally, I want to advise that the road will be bumpy and nerve-wrecking, but it is very important and necessary for the government to steady its gaze and maintain its focus on its vision.

With all these programmes, Osun will not only feed her people and provide employment for thousands of jobless people, it will also be the food basket of West Africa.

Osun Aiming High In Agriculture

I am quite impressed with the thrust of QIIP for Agriculture in Osun State.My experience at the Cooperative Farmers’ seminar held at Leisure Spring Hotel on December 8 -9, 2011 made me to make this statement.

For instance, the Food Laboratory project slated for 2012 in the state is so timely and necessary. I’m a farmer and a food processor and I just got a quote for independent food product analysis at a rate of N38,000 per product.

This is rather huge for an average processor in Osun State and perhaps barrier forming, if you like.

The queen bee project too amongst listed activities for 2012 is also unique and fantastic given the present pollination activities in Nigeria and Osun is provided mainly by insects, wind, wasps, etc which accounts for 20 percent of pollination activities, nationwide.

With queen bee production activity in Osun, the ecological balancing food production will be positively moderated, as bees in major food producing countries of the world account for 80 percent pollination activities.

Osun State is now laying a foundation to reap higher qualitative and quantitative yield in agricultural products.

Finally, I want to advise that the road will be bumpy and nerve-wrecking, but it is very important and necessary for the government to steady its gaze and maintain its focus on its vision.

With all these programmes, Osun will not only feed her people and provide employment for thousands of jobless people, it will also be the food basket of West Africa.

•Olanrewaju Akinfenwa, Osogbo, Osun State.

Farming To Banish Famine (II)Agriculture Background Before Inception of Ogbeni Aregbesola CONTD.

A PEOPLE’S work or vocation is a true reflection of their ways of life. This fact implies that a definition of culture or even its concept is not adequate except such definition includes the work or means of livelihood of the people. At the beginning of this report, it was unravelled how God endowed the work concept and made man adaptable to his environment on its basis. This God­given endowment does not leave our geographical delineation called Osun State unaffected. Even, Nigeria, of which Osun State is a subset, is also involved, as agriculture wields its influence as the most potent endeavour that offers mea1-ticket to a majority of the people.

Agriculture had been the mainstay of Nigerian economy prior to the nation’s independence fifty years ago, precisely, on October 1, 1960, and prior to the oil boom that came sometimes later. As at the pre-independence era, it was estimated that between 80 per cent and 95 per cent of Nigerians in the workforce category were employed in the agricultural sector. While we agree that the neglect of agriculture for the prospects in the oil sector affected the whole parts of Nigeria, it becomes a most heinous sin that is beyond pardon, to fail to resuscitate and revitalize this sector, especially in an agriculture-friendly environment like the one that Nature has bestowed on us in Osun State.

Generally in Nigeria, the percentage population of workforce employed in agriculture and its allied areas had declined sharply to about 60 per cent since the oil boom of the 1970s. The percentage has since declined further due of factors not unconnected with the after-effects of the oil-boom, which include desire for white-collar jobs, cravings for urban sophistication, rural-urban migration, among others.

In Osun State, the rich, fertile soil, the abundance of streams, rivers and springs, the abundant rainfall, the farming-friendly climatic/weather conditions and other enabling factors mark the state out as a potential “food basket” of Nigeria and the· Diaspora. Unfortunately, this dream has not yet been accomplished. The government of the day, especially, has however kept hope alive to translate dreams to actions that could transform the state from a status of mere consumer to that of a robust producer.

Under Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola in particular, the state fell victim of wasted opportunities and squandered resources. Time and again, the ousted governor reverberated his conversance with agricultural concepts – ‘tractors’, , fertilizers’ , , insecticides’, ‘pesticides’, ‘irrigation’, ‘all-year-­round farming’,’ integrated farming’, and the rest – with huge amount of money, running into billions of naira going into the bargain, without visible results.

For an upward of eight years, Osun State had been plundered and devastated under the misgovernance of the Okuku-bom prince. Due to morbid indiscretion and crude ignorance, most of the state’s former helmsmen have neglected the most vibrant .aspect of the state’s economy, which would have boosted her revenue base and lifted her to a greater pedestal as a productive, rather than federal allocation-seeking, civil service state.

To make matters worse, the fastly-impoverished farming class remained unaided. Claims by consecutive administrations to have brought relief their way all this while were found out to be false as these. reliefs, in form of cash and materials were found to have flown away untraceably like winds into the pockets of those who are not in any way close to the practice of farming.

In this series of edition, OSUN DEFENDER Magazine has devoted quality time, energy and resources to tracing the crux of the problems, as well as the frantic efforts of the Aregbesola administration to salvage the sector and improve the standard of living of the people by turning waste to wealth. A Yoruba philosophy reasons that one major means by which you could increase a people’s misery and squalor is to stifle and scuttle their occupation, vocation or means of livelihood. Aregbesola has come to revive the sector and revive hope for the generality of the citizens and dwellers of the state.

THE place of Osun State in the comity of states was quite impressive. Even before the state was created, the geographical expression which constitutes the present­-day Osun 5tate was reputed for a number of unique and exemplary attributes. The citizens were noted for hardwork and industry. Agriculture and western education throve. Citizens of the area that is now called Osun State made success in these areas of endeavour, as they became distinguished. A proof of this lies in the fact that when the cultivable land area at home became inadequate for the scale of farming of their taste, many of our farmers migrated to other parts of the state, or to neighboring states in the present-day Ondo, Ekiti Ogun or even Edo, to hire land or procure sizeable areas for farming purposes. The inadequacy of land at their home base was majorly, as a result of the prevailing land tenure system, the imprints of which still subsist till date.

It is incontestable that Osun State is blessed with good arable land and excellent climatic conditions. The vegetation and rainfall conditions are also favourable. The presence of rivers, streams and springs, which continually keep the soils damp and properly moisturized, make the area friendly to faming and other agricultural activities.

Unlike many areas in Nigeria where climatic and soil conditions are hostile to some or most crops, the list is endless of the crops that could be successfully cultivated on the soils of Osun State. Cash crops like cocoa, kolanut, palm trees and rice could be found in great abundance as well as food crops, consisting a wide variety of cereals – maize, guinea com in particular are cultivated. Other crops are groundnuts, cowpea, and melon etcetera. Citrus crops – sweet orange, tangerine, lime, lemon and grapes are also in abundance.

The above does not present an exhaustive detail of Osun State’s agricultural potentialities. Naturally, hunting is made possible in its forests by a good deposit of wild animals therein. This indicates that livestock farming is possible both on our lands and in water. To some extent, even cattle-­rearing is possible in Osun State. A proof to this is the presence of nomadic cattle-rearers in the state.

These positive conditions that enhance smooth and productive agricultural operations are not just present everywhere. The fact is that Osun State enjoys rare blessing from God. In the desert, arid and semi-arid regions of the world, harsh climatic and soil conditions militate against safe, productive agricultural exploits. Yet, some of them are distinguished leading farmers today. Take the Israeli example, the land which could otherwise have been most unsuitable due to dryness has been turned around to yield multiple blessing. So much is this blessing that Israel has much to lend to other nations today in terms of agriculture and technology.

We can also cite the Nile Basin as example, which comprises Egypt and Sudan. Irrigation has enhanced an all-­year-round cultivation, a case of man making the best of his environment through lots of modification efforts. The Israeli example earlier cited is also a living testimony to irrigation technology.

In Nigeria, there are areas where irrigation farming has been employed to keep them abreast of problems associated with harsh soil and climatic conditions. In the Northern part of the country where rainfall is sparse and the impact of sunlight intense, irrigation is employed today to create an enriched agriculture-friendly environment.

If, as it happened towards the end of year 2009, South African farmers had to seek for cultivable land to hire in Congo, then, the degree at which we are blessed in these parts is astronomical. Some Zimbabwean farmers drifted to Nigeria some years ago to explore the “milk and honey” that flow in our soil and derive the best from it. They are still around till date. As a matter of fact, they accepted with great enthusiasm to be called Nigerian farmers, instead of their true contextual name: Zimbabwean farmers.

If all these instances are true, then, why has Osun State not been making ends meet in the area of agriculture, especially, given her multiple endowments? Her vantage position, which makes her to share boundaries with five different states, makes this question more probing. OSUN DEFENDER Magazine, in this segment of this edition is all-out to trace and identify the true position of Osun State among contemporary states with which it shares physical boundaries. What is her position, vis-à-vis other adjoining states? What has it over-done? Are there things it has failed to do or are there unexploited areas of blessing in the state?


Farming To Banish Famine (II) Agriculture Background Before the Inception of Ogbeni Aregbesola.

God’s injunction in the Holy Bible that “and whatever he doeth shall prosper” is pregnant with meanings. This blessing pronouncement by David, the Psalmist, is both inspiring and prophetic. Preceding this much-emphasized blessing are the preconditions requisite to reaping the dividends of the blessings. They include, among others, not walking in the counsel of the ungodly, not standing in the way of sinners and not sitting in the seat of the scornful. Not to bore our readers with much sermon, we intend to proceed straight to the relevance of these scriptural portions.

First and foremost, we learn from these verses that our creator intended us to work. He did not will it from the beginning, He incorporated work right from the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, when He told Adam: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return to the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return…Genesis 3: 19

Secondly, God did not intend work to kill. Even though the last citation referred to death as the last destiny of man’s flesh and physical existence, it was not ordained that man had to die as a result of the physical and mental exertion that work demanded.

On a third note, man was destined to be blessed through his work. In Genesis 3: 19, man was ordained to eat bread from the sweat of his face. Also, in the earlier-cited verse from Psalm 1:3, whatever man does shall prosper. This is where we are going: Man, in his right senses, does not expect to be blessed, enriched, prospered or lifted without enterprise. Work therefore, is a channel through which man keys in for God’s blessings of increase, enlargement, lifting and multiplication.

The scriptures are replete with miracles. These miracles point to it that blessings and salvation are not based on work or perfection but Grace. However, this fact does not preclude the fact that work is relevant. “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” “… Show me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works” (James 2:18).

The foregoing is to the effect of expressing OSUN DEFENDER Magazine’s worry over the neglect and abandonment hitherto suffered by our God-given vocation­ Agriculture in ‘the State of Omoluabi,  especially, under the close watch of the inept, ousted administration of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola and his political cocoon, the indolent People’s Democratic Party (PDP). In pursuance of the opening Biblical references in this report, God, at creation, made everything available – light, water, air, earth, land mass, solar bodies plants and vegetation, etcetera – to make man enjoy life. He further put man in places suited to him and made him fit in to vocations well-suited to his natural environment. With this enabling environment, man finds himself amenable to the natural conditions, while he strives, within the ambits of intellect he is endowed with, to modify those components that are not well in line with his tastes or emerging needs. It is therefore out of place for man to stand aloof to the vocation or calling with which nature has endowed him.

CONSPICUOUSLY located towards the northern part of the Yoruba territory in the South-Western Nigeria, Osun State got her name from the Yoruba goddess of water, worshipped in some parts of the ancient Yoruba kingdom till date. The state was carved out of the old Oyo State on August 27, 1991. Osun State, which totem was the State of the Living Spring got rechristened in February 2011 to become State of the Virtuous People. It covers an area of approximately 14,875 square kilometres, lying between longitude 1400″E and 05 05″E and latitude 05 558″ and 08 07″ and is bounded by Kwara State in the North, Ekiti and Ondo States in the East, Oyo State in the West and Ogun State in the South •

Osun State is peopled entirely by the Yoruba-speaking people of several sub-ethnic groups, namely the Ifes, the Ijesas, the Oyos, the Igbominas and the Ibolos. The 1991 National Population Census put the population of the state at 2.2 million. There are more than 200 towns, villages and settlements in the state. Results of the 2006 National Population Census however revealed that the state’s population had increased almost by double, as the figure was put at 3,423,535.

With some of the major towns including Osogbo, Ile-Ife, Ilesa, Ikirun, Iwo, Ede, Ila-Orangun and Ikire, others that are fairly large are Ipetumodu, Ejigbo,Ilobu, Gbongan, Inisa, Ijebu-Ijesa, Ipetu-Ijesa, Okuku, Iree, Ifon-Osun, Iragbiji and others.

The political delineation of the state goes thus: 3 senatorial districts, 9 federal constituencies, and 26 state constituencies. The state has 30 local government councils and one area office that comprise more than 300 wards. Having specified the indigenous sub-ethnic groups of the state so succinctly, non-indigenes from all parts of Nigeria and foreigners reside in the state, living together in harmony. Yoruba and English are languages of the people for official and business transactions.

Osun State is endowed with highly literate and articulate populace, who constitute a virile and productive workforce. Traditionally, the people engaged in agriculture and produced sufficient food and cash crops for domestic consumption and as inputs for agro-allied industries and for exports.

Unfortunately, there has been retrogression in this trend in recent times. The concern generated by this retrogression reached a head when, upon assumption of office as Governor of the state in November 2010, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola observed with shock that most food items consumed in the state were being imported from neighbouring states and other places. The concern generated by that observation of his and the various activities embarked upon so far by his administration to reverse the sad trend have brought about this series of editions of OSUN DEFENDER Magazine.

Reasonable segments of the populace are also traders and artisans. Other occupations of the people include hand weavings, mat making, dyeing, soap making, wood carving, among others. The traditional times were inhabited by highly industrious indigenes, who found it convenient and expedient to combine two or more of these vocations. Farmers, mostly, went ahead to process their own raw produces. In other words, a farmer, having harvested reasonable quantity of palm fruits, could go ahead, enlisting the support of his wife (wives), servants, children and other family members, to process out palm oil, palm kernel, chaffs (for cooking), kernel shells (for cooking) and other by-products of palm tree. Also, he could tap some palm wine for domestic or commercial consumption.

Those past era were illustrious indeed. Apprenticeship in trades and vocations throve, as children and young adults were entrusted to siblings, uncles, aunts and other family members or even acquainted to others outside family circles for trainings, requisite to financial and economic independence, freedom and self ­sufficiency.

By virtue of the empire system that throve in those earlier days, servant-service was prevalent. Slaves worked for their masters. There also were some slaves paired with creditors to serve them pending the pay-up of the principal sum by the debtor. Debtors paired their son(s)/ daughter(s) to give service under terms and conditions that were usually well-defined, but that at times, may end in a lifelong servitude for the slave so committed.

Another striking feature of our traditional agricultural industry was the cooperative service rendering approach to large-scale farming. Under this approach, men of like trade pooled their strength and resources together as they operated shift or rotation on each member’s farm plot. Called owe or aaro or esusu, this approach was a clear demonstration of our culture as hardworking and highly organized, where work and human’s worth and dignity were highly esteemed.

Council Boss Charges FG, Youths, To Resuscitate Agriculture

Worried by the declination of youths’ participation in agriculture, the caretaker committee chairman, Ayedire Local Government, Mr. Gbenga Ogunkanmi, has called on all the tiers of government in the country, to repackage agriculture and make it attractive to the youths.

According to Ogunkanmi, there is need to resuscitate farming and prioritize agriculture  in Nigeria, should the country wants to wipe out hunger and unemployment problems, saying that full participation in agriculture is the only key to food security and economic stability.

Ogunkanmi urged the Federal Government to fund and make provisions for mechanize farming for the youths and other people that are interested, noting that the step would enhance massive food production and lessen the stress and financial cost of farmers.

The council boss stated this last Monday, while declaring open, a three-day workshop organized for some cadets of the Ayedire Youths Empowerment Scheme (AYES), on livestock farming, crops nursery and plantation.

Decrying the reliance of the Federal Government on oil, Ogunkanmi asserted that the economy of the country would be stabilized, if government commits its resources to resuscitating agriculture and encouraging farming.

He maintained that the development that took place across the country, particularly in the western region,

Reinventing Agriculture In Osun: Need To Replicate Songhai Scheme

With the present drive of the Aregbesola administration in revamping agriculture in Osun State, NIYI OLASINDE brings the plight of trainees in the “Songhai Experiment” of the immediate past administration under focus; stressing the need by the incumbent administration to revisit the scheme and give it proper repackaging and utilization.

In the earliest days of his administration, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Governor of Osun State, came out pungently to demonstrate his unflinching commitment and determination to turn around the civil-service status hitherto worn by the state. The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN)-led administration started this new focus with a view to ensuring food security, provide farm produces for use by domestic industries; creating excesses in agricultural produces to make exportation possible; and improve Internally-Generated Revenue (IGR) base of the state thereby. Before the coming on board of the Aregbesola administration, the state had become a victim of visionless administration with no focus or will-power to improve the revenue profile of the state and save it from financial embarrassment. The prevailing situation around here had been that of overdependence on the monthly statutory allocation coming from the centre, which could hardly settle the overhead bills of governance, not to talk of providing infrastructure, making industrialization more formidable, creating wealth and saving the people from the fangs of unemployment, poverty and squalor by improving their general standards of living.
Early enough, the administration of Engineer Rauf  Aregbesola brainstormed and identified that there existed a vacuum, created by underutilization of a vibrant sector which had been the pride of the nation in the pre-independence era till about a dscade after the nation’s independence in 1960. This was prior to the oil boom of early 1970s. In those times cocoa, palm produce, groundnut, rubber, kolanut, timber, to mention just a new, created wealth for the nation. In addition, the agricultural sector of our economy engaged well above 80 per cent of our workforce productively such that our appellation among the comity of nations was “the Giant of Africa”. This part of the nation, which is now proudly being referred to as the South-Western geopolitical zone was then wondrously blessed, since it made utmost use of its natural, God-endowed resources. A combination of crave for leisure; sloth; carelessness; poor leadership lacking in vision, foresight, discretion and willpower; irresponsible followership; and lack of focus contributed to the prevailing situation of “land of plenty and want” that pervaded the area. Needless to say, the sector which had been so neglected is Agriculture.
At the very inception of the incumbent administration, the helmsman of the state, Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola constituted a committee of experts which was saddled, prior to the commencement of rolling out his programmes of relief, encouragement and assistance to farmers and practising agriculturists in the state, to tour and accurately capture the thirty (30) local government council areas of the state, with the inclusion of Ife East Area Office. The committee, which comprised agricultural experts, geographers, soil scientists and engineers toured the wide expanse of the state in a week-long exercise between late January and early February. Their professional tour took them to various local government areas, farm settlements, farm centres and villages where discussions were held with practising farmers on their farms, with a view to getting first-hand information on how to assist them in achieving increased production of food and other produces this year and years to come.
The committee, which approached the exercise on zonal basis, left no stone unturned in pin-pointing the numerous challenges which had militated in the past to hamper the growth, development and productivity of agricultural sector in the state. At the end of its exploratory tour, problems identified to be inhibiting agricultural prosperity in the state include financial limitations, bad road network and storage facilities.
While in active tour of all the nooks and crannies of the state, the chairman of the committee, Mr. Bayo Ojo, was reported to have defined the terms of reference of the committee to include mainly going round all farm settlements, centres and villages in all council areas of the state to ascertain the problems facing crop and farm-produce production in order to proffer timely and lasting solutions. The committee observed that though the agricultural policy of the nascent administration was still on course, the Governor had considered it necessary to tackle head-on the issue of rendering timely assistance to farmers so as not to waste the whole stretch of this year’s (20ll) rainy season, which held high promise of bumper and prolific harvest for the state.
Integral part of the committee’s activities and findings included feeling the pulse of farmers in situ, in all the locations where practising ones are found in the state. Findings revealed that farmers made a clarion call on the State Government to assist them in ensuring the eradication of the numerous challenges facing them, with a view to empowering them to increase their production in the areas of food security and other numerous farm produces. It was also reestablished that the state is naturally endowed and well-positioned for a prolific harvest in various food and cash crops including animal produces.
In addition to the three challenges earlier-mentioned in this report, other challenges were identified first-hand through a working interaction with practising farmers. Far from theoretical abstractions, other identified challenges include those connected with marketing, non-availability of tractors and modern equipment that could make for economies of scale brought about by agricultural mechanization, non-availability of chemicals (pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and the likes), shortage of fertilizer supply and lack of facilities for irrigation to ensure an all-year-round production of vital staple farm produces and food items. Closely knit to this last issue of all-year-round availability of produces is poor storage facilities, which threatens conservation and preservation of harvested crops and livestock, cause colossal waste; forcing farmers to quickly dispose what they laboured hard to produce at exorbitant cost at give-away prices
Central to the problems identified by the committee is that of poor infrastructure at the grassroots, which perpetually keeps agricultural productivity at an abysmally low level and compels massive drift of working population from rural areas to urban areas where little or no farming activities could take place. In other words, it was found out that with the focus of the incumbent administration in the state which is bent o give a boost to agriculture, the coast is clear to making agriculture more attractive and far more profitable – all to the enhanced prosperity of the macro society.
Apart from the committee’s achievement is getting the input of the farmers direct, it also succeeded in ensuring that individuals and communities volunteered the release of parcels of land areas to the State Government for cultivation to enhance a boost in food productions and production of other farm produces. The released land areas per local government council area measured up to 1,000 hectares each. This development was, and is still a signal to better things to come for our state and its people under the administration of Engineer Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola.
The foregoing is a preamble to other frantic efforts put in so far by the Aregbesola administration to better the lot of the State of Omoluabi by turning around agriculture as a trade, a vocation, an industry and an income-earner. The administration is also committed to transforming Osun State into the food basket of the nation in no time. Subsequent segments of this report shall reveal more of this policy and the frantic steps taken so far.

Following the groundwork tour of the Agriculture Committee discussed above, the Osun State Government, under the governorship of Ogbeni Aregbesola has launched its first agricultural programme. The programme, tagged Osun State Rural Enterprise and Agricultural Programme (OREAP), has as its focus granting assistance in finance, materials and equipment to individual farmers and farmers’ cooperative societies with a view to boosting their scope of operations, productivity and ensuring abundance in food production and raw materials for existing and emerging industries.
The Osun Rural Enterprise and  Agricultural Programme (OREAP) has distinguished itself already by winning widespread acceptance and praises by residents of Osun State and people from other states who view it as a right step in the right direction. By the tone and spirit of the blueprint and activities rolled out for the programme, it becomes clear that the efforts of the becomes clear that the efforts of the incumbent administration in the state to revamp the economy of the state through massive food production and cash crop production would go a long way, not only in quelling the devastating blows dealt by hunger, unemployment, starvation and sloth, but also in improving the revenue profile of the state and launching the state forward into a highly industrialized society.
According to findings through the feelers sent into the field by OSUN DEFENDER Magazine, the major besetting of some earlier administrations in the state was that loans given or intended to be given to farmers or farmers’ cooperative societies ended in wrong hands as pen-brandishing farmers took it up and considered it their own largesse or share of the “national cake.” Under the immediate past administration of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola in particular, findings revealed that enormous proportions of micro credit facilities for farmers and Fadama project loans went into wrong hands which diverted the funds into uses that were totally unconnected with farming.
Already, the Aregbesola administration has proved its worth and mettle at safeguarding against this misadventure. Governor Rauf Aregbesola has embraced the practising farmers in the state warmly, first by making them feel involved and second, by encouraging them to form cooperative groups through which they could more easily access loans and credits with easier and more comfortable repayment. The loans, by their fat sizes, could stand them in better stead to afford procurement of tractors and other equipment which would enhance their productivity and prosperity.
Already, the Aregbesola administration has commenced a state-wide crusade for opening of rural areas and farm settlement to the urban areas. Governor Aregbesola, noticed with discontent that much of the food consumed in the state were imported from other places, while our fertile arable land lay fallow. This said development presents sharp deviation to known standards set by the late avatar, Chief Obafemi Awolowo in his days as Premier of the defunct Western Region. At the zenith of that Region’s glory, Awolowo turned agriculture to wealth by effectively generating revenue from it and efficiently using the wealth to build infrastructure for the benefit of all. Good road network, decent and befitting school buildings, the famous Cocoa House Building in Ibadan, the first television station in Africa (known today as Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, Ibadan), and the Liberty Stadium (now Obafemi Awolowo Stadium) also at Ibadan remain till date legacies from the benevolence of the good leadership of the late sage. These are not to talk of enormous fund spent on the free education programme of that era, which till date has launched the region to the fore-front of educational progress and advancement in the country. Also, the free health services of that glorious and illustrious past era broke the jinx of superstitions and untimely death. Like legendary Mary Slessor, Awolowo saved a whole generation from extinction via his free Medicare, financed through proceeds from agriculture.
Like Joseph in the foreign land of Egypt, Aregbesola is set and determined to explore and use our abundance in natural endowments and climatic conditions to provide for now and the future. He is also resolute to help other lands through our own vibrant agricultural sector. The wisdom which distinguished Joseph to excel and get elevated to the exalted position of Prime Minister in a foreign land spoke for Aregbesola to become and perform creditably as Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure in Lagos. The selfsame wisdom is at work for him in his home state today. Like Oyinlola, Aregbesola first functioned in Lagos State before his home-coming. Most unlike Oyinlola, however, he had good credentials out there and is already making a mark here at home.
Still in the area of infrastructure as a fillip to agricultural productivity, Aregbesola is already busy working on building railway network across Osun State to link cosmopolitan Lagos State. This is with a view to getting farm produces, labour and material inputs easily transported with lower expenses. Much outcry was heard from farmers during the locust years of the Oyinlola administration concerning diversion of fertilizers, poor storage facilities, poor market conditions, lack of requisite infrastructure, poor access to credit and loans facilities and other problems. In spite of boastful ranting by that administration, nothing significant was done to assuage the sufferings of these members of the most productive segment of our economy, who were relegated to the lowly status of peasants of pre-Adam Smith era. The pact of the Aregbesola administration with the Chinese railway construction gurus shall soon materialize into flowing economy with easy access to market in Lagos and overseas.
In replication of the agricultural drive of Osun State Government, local government caretaker committees across the state; which were inaugurated in February 2011 are also taking decisive steps to give support and encouragement to agriculture. Forming an integral part of their 100th day anniversary in office was the donation of various agricultural items, materials and implements ranging from improved seeds and seedlings to agro-chemicals (i.e. pesticides, insecticides and herbicides), with implements of various kinds and fertilizers to bring relief and soccour to farmers.
Already, various local government administrations are involved in agreements with Leventis (Nigeria) Schools Limited to enrol youths for entrepreneurship/empowerment training in different fields of agricultural operations. A case in hand is the visit by the management team of the school in Ilesa to the chairman and cabinet of Ilesa West Local Government in May to work out an action plan on how to revolutionize agriculture in the area. The Caretaker Chairman of the local council, Alhaji Honourable Azeez Isa Adesiji provided an enabling environment by promising to tow the line of the State Government in pursuing a replica of its agricultural policies to the letter.
This was the situation across all local government council areas in the state. In Odo-Otin, Boripe, Ifelodun, Irewole Ayedaade and Irepodun for instance, the chairmen and members of the councils’ caretaker committees gave generous gifts and donations to farmers to enhance their productivity this season and yonder.

Time and time again, Governor Aregbesola has always reiterated his commitment to make Osun State Economically viable through agriculture and industrialization. The government spares no occasion to renew his avowed determination to turning the tide of the state around by generating greater Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) through agriculture. To him, it is first thing first-agriculture first; then industrialization. The budget analysis for year 2011, presented by the Permanent Secretary for on public advocacy on agricultural policy and food the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Budget, Elder Abiodun Akintaro, JP in June 2011 contains details of activities and programmes planned for execution in this direction. It was not surprising to find items like silos, tractors and other equipment forming part of the details and breakdown of the agricultural sub-sector.
Also, at the instance of the Special Osun Businessmen Quarterly Retreat titled “Opening of the Untapped Business Opportunities in Osun State” held sometimes in June 2011 at the Club House, De-Place Funcity Osogbo, Aregbesola renewed his vow to make Osun State a treasure trove of human and material resources capable of making it a veritable economic hub of the South-West geopolitical zone of Nigeria. The governor promised that economic development would soon take place under the astute leadership which his team would provide so as to pool the various opportunities and resources.
According to the Governor, the usual reference to the state s a “civil service state” is an anathema. Describing this reference as derisive, the governor observed that other charitable commentators were in the habit of referring to Osun State as centre of arts and culture. This development, Aregbesola reasoned became the norm because when compared with other states like Lagos, Oyo and Rivers, Osun is not yet in the business league of Nigeria.
Excerpts from the governor’s speech at the occasion read:

“Osun State is often derisively referred to as a civil service state. Those who will be more charitable will refer to Osun as a centre of art and culture. This is because compared to Lagos, Oyo and Rivers states; Osun is not yet in the business league in Nigeria. Ironically, Osun sits on a treasure trove of human and material resources capable of making it a veritable economic hub of the South-West.
“What we can make of this is that no matter the degree of potentiality, economic development can only take place where there is astute leadership to pool together the various opportunities and resources.”

The governor confessed that upon his assumption of office, his team discovered that the economic potentials of the state were just lying fallow while there were opportunities that could have been channelled to create jobs, economically empower the people and increase the income base of the government. He added that a good majority of the people of Osun State comprises farmers who are blessed with good arable land to cultivate food and cash crops. In effect, if the fertile soil had been well-harnessed, agro-allied industries and several other opportunities in the area of food processing would have thrived.
In his further submission, if the fertile soil had been well harnessed, a waiting market would have been sighted to absorb the agricultural produce of Osun State. Identifying this waiting market, Aregbesola revealed that there exists a daily N3 Billion food market in Lagos, Nigeria’s former federal capital and commercial cum industrial nerve-centre of Nigeria.
Governor Aregbesola promised the commitment of the State Government under his leadership to position farmers to take a sizeable chunk of the N3 Billion food market in Lagos while also working with financial institutions on how farmers could be helped to begin a transition from subsistence to large-scale commercial farming.
Earlier this year, the Governor paid a visit to the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (ITTA) which headquarters in Nigeria resides in Ibadan, Oyo State. Also, reference has been made in an earlier segment of this report of plans to provide the state with adequate railway network, linking up with the agricultural market in Lagos. It was at the occasion that Governor Aregbesola announced that all arrangements had been concluded to partner with the IITA and the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) in the respective connections concerning their auspicious services.
In his words at the occasion, Governor Aregbesola declared that:

“There is a daily N3 Billion food market in Lagos and we are positioning our farmers to take a sizeable chunk of this. We are working with financial institutions on how our farmers can be helped to begin a transition from subsistence farming to large scale commercial farming. Towards this, we are also working with research institutions like IITA to provide them with techniques, modern implements and improved high-yielding seeds.”

Finally, the governor made a categorical statement on the intended overall benefit of the Osun State Rural Enterprise and Agricultural Programme (OREAP). He promised that his administration would do everything necessary to empower men, women and youths through agriculture, and via the instrumentality of the programme.
The agricultural cum food security campaign of Governor Rauf Aregbesola is not confined to Osun Sate alone. The amazons of solutions gave his model a global perspective when he counseled the Federal Government to adopt a national food sufficiency policy which is reasoned to avert an unpleasant diplomatic situation for the country.
Featuring at an event held recently, where he was represented by the co-coordinating Director, Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Dr. Adegbite Ojo, the governor noted that Nigeria is poised with challenges associated with food security. He therefore called for the development of a policy that would guarantee food sufficiency. The governor had this to say:

“A food-dependent country can be brought to its knees very easily if supply is withdrawn by the supplying nation.”

He pled that the Federal Government should act fast in view of what he described as “the international system that is increasingly becoming hostile and insatiable.”
Food security, according to the governor, has become a national security since any country that could not feed its population is diplomatically weak, dependent and vulnerable to external aggression and manipulation. He further stressed that the development of any nation is always preceded by development in agriculture which provides most of the raw materials for industrial development. Once a nation is able to master its agricultural potentials, such a country would be almost immediately able to master other areas of development. Wondering on the reason why children of war-ravaged countries should look well-fed while Nigerian children should look gaunt and malnourished, Aregbesola said:

“I have often wondered on the national food crisis. When I look at the pictures of children from war-ravaged countries, how they look healthy and robust while our own children in a war-free country look gaunt and malnourished. Our people are not well-fed.”

According to him, the implications of citizens not being well fed are evident in the mental capabilities, physical prowess of the youth and longevity in general. He then called on researchers to look into the situation. While paying glowing tributes to the foundation Vice-Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Professor Hezekiah Oluwasanmi, Aregbesola challenged scholars to find out whether there are correlations between mass failure in secondary school examinations and nutrition deficiency in the kids; since the cognitive capacity of children is largely proportional to their access to basic nutrients. Excerpts:

“Do you often observe how underperforming athletes upon getting to Europe and America suddenly become physically big and are catapulted to world beaters’ class? Does recess to good nutrition play any role in this transformation?”

He then threw further challenges to social scientists and nutrition experts to start embarking on public advocacy on agricultural policy and food security. He made it expressly clear that the best way to create wealth, provide jobs, grow the economy, expand government income and uplift the standard of living of our people is to develop agriculture with the right incentives including land, soft loans, modern farming techniques and implements, improved seedlings and extension services.
From the horse’s mouth, it was made known at the occasion the giant strides of the Aregbesola administration – how the administration has been favourably disposed to tackle head-on the problems of food security in the land. According to him, his government had secured 30,000 hectares of land across the state to produce food crops through the Osun Rural Enterprise and Agricultural Programme (OREAP). This aspect deserves documentation to substantiate our earlier claims and authenticate the achievements so far pointed to in this edition. The governor declared as follows:

“In Osun State, our commitment to agricultural development is total and irrevocable. Though our Osun Rural Enterprise and Agricultural Programme (OREAP), we are working to revitalize agriculture and empower our people. We have acquired 30,000 hectares of land in all the local government councils in the state for the purpose of commercial farming. We want to transform our farmers from subsistence farmers to large-scale commercial farmers.”

As earlier pointed out in this edition, given a daily N3 Billion food market in Lagos, the governor made it categorically clear that his team would position Osun State farmers to tap into 10 per cent of this while arrangements are being made to partaker with the Nigerian Railway Corporation and other partners to give farmers direct daily access to sell their produce.

The foregoing does not bare the full list of efforts by the present-day administration of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola in Osun State to lift the state’s economic viability through agricultural renaissance. There have been other areas where the present-day administration is making ground-breaking moves to revolutionize agriculture and turn the economic fortunes of the state around positively. OSUN DEFENDER Magazine shall devote this segment to those salient measures already being adopted or embraced to make agriculture and our entire economy vibrant once again.
Within the first six months of his administration, Ogbeni Aregbesola has set the stage for the state’s unparalleled growth and transformation in the area of agriculture. His intellectual preparedness, strategic planning, administrative sagacity and infectious hardwork are not in doubt – they have begun to manifest with great rapidity. In that length of time mentioned, the incumbent administration has set mark to achieve what the inept Oyinlola administration could not achieve in the entire seven-and-a-half years that it sat tight in office.
Today, the atmosphere has changed. A set of Korean investors has come to invest in agriculture in the state. This is a separate arrangement from the Osun Rural Enterprise and Agricultural Programme (OREAP) earlier natured. They are however complementary. The truth of the matter is that agriculture is now considered as a matter of priority and great urgency as a veritable resource base, revenue earner and employment generator.
With the present development, citizens of the State, youths and incoming generation in particular can view the future with greater confidence. Agriculture in Osun State has started to witness rejuvenation with the ageing population of farm workers being replaced with vibrant youths. This trend would produce greater yield. Also with the higher educational attainments wielded by a new entrants into the agricultural sector, the sector shall witness total reinvigoration. In a fell swoop, the effect would be triple-attracting youth employment, increasing agricultural yields outputs and boosting our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
Korean farmers have a brilliant focus for investing in an area. Their primary focus is large-scale mechanized farming. Our besetting hitherto had been gross reliance on crude implements and traditional/agrarian farming method/techniques, which limits productivity. The modernize techniques do not suggest utter jettisoning of peasant farmers. They are to be incorporated into the scheme of reinvigoration. In other words, the large scale mechanized farms can find these peasants useful as out croppers who are incorporated into contact schemes, this shall produce an end-result of getting them well conversant with more up-to-date methods of farming, while at the same time allowing them to be trained in the use of new improved seedlings, storage facilities, systems and marketing techniques.
The initiative that gave birth to the advent of Koreans instills fresh lease of life that eventually, Osun State has begun to be seen as a land of prolific harvest and profound resources. This is a vital impetus to the overall economic regeneration of the state. More so when the socio-political climate prevailing in the state today is friendly and congenial to investors who may wish to sink heavy resources into production on our land. Thank God for the peace that we enjoy.
Also, a robust partnership is in the pipeline between the incumbent Osun State Government and People’s Republic of China in areas as critical as agriculture. This could be the best explanation for the governor’s working visits to that foreign land. Cooperation and partnership in agriculture is of particular interest to the State Government, which has the focus of boosting the economy of the state as its topmost priority.
During a recent visit to China, Governor Aregbesola presented the Osun State Economic Development Agenda to a gathering of Chinese investors and government officials at a seminar facilitated by the All-China Federation of Trade Unions. The ACFTU has vested interest in incurring huge massive investments in critical areas in Nigeria with special attention on Osun State.
In his quoted speech to Chinese Xinhua recently, the following excerpts by Aregbesola are of relevant interest to OSUN DEFENDER Magazine:

“We are keen on agricultural programmes and projects, particularly food. So we are going to explore possibility of engagement in food production programmes and activities. We are equally keen on logistics, improvement of agricultural produce from our remotely located state to Lagos where the market is.”

In addition, it is imperative that through the bond, Osun State would also explore the possibility of having investment in heavy agricultural equipment.
Recently, the State Government approved a sum of N255 Million for release to execute Rural Access Mobility Project (RAMP) to assist farmers in getting their farm produces transported from rural areas and farm centres to urban centres. This step is a giant stride in opening rural areas up to large markets in urban areas.
Also recently, the government of Engineer Rauf Aregbesola signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Synctop Corporation Limited, a Korean Company, to the tune of $400 million (equivalent of N60 Billion) on an investment deal in food production and other areas of agriculture. This deal is expected to bring 127,000 jobs into Osun State and bring a boost to our Internally-Generated Revenue (IGR) base.

However, there is a segment of new-breed, young and vibrant trained farmers in the state who are waiting, like an untapped resources to be enlisted and incorporated into the Aregbesola agricultural revolution. Last April, about one-hundred and forty-Nine (149) graduates who participated in the Songhai Agricultural “Experiment” of the Oyinlola administration trooped into the venue of the Justice Odewingie Uwaifo-led Truth and Reconciliation Commission to lay their grievances over the breach of the bond agreement signed with the ousted administration. Among the grievances laid before the commission was the delay and denial of other opportunities caused the participants by the retention of their academic certificates in the custody of the last administration as part of the bond agreement. Also the youth agitated over the economic hardship they had been subjected to. They therefore requested a handsome compensation of N500, 000.00 per participant while they asked the commission to bar Oyinlola and his Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy Affairs and Community Development, who doubled as the anchor for the Songhai Programme, Professor Muheeb Opeloye from holding public offices.
It would be recollected that the Osun State Government under Governor Aregbesola inaugurated the Osun Truth and Reconciliation Commission (OSTRC) on Thursday, February 17, 2011 to identify the causes of human rights abuse and violation with a view to preventing similar future occurrences.
If it is agreed that our agriculture here had suffered terrible besetting in the past and that a large proportion of our farming populace are ageing, then it is true that such ageing workforce cannot be vigorous and vibrant. Furthermore, the ageing workforce cannot be receptive to new ideas, modern concepts as well as change brought about by different ways of doing things. The various youth employment/empowerment programmes embarked upon by the Aregbesola administration are a clear demonstration that it is determined to infuse new blood into the system.
By bringing in fresh blood, the agricultural sector will be reinvigorated. A new, innovative educated workforce is vital to resuscitating the sector. With new personnel coming into the agricultural sector, a modern rural economy can now be built. This was where Oyinlola failed. The effort he put into the pursuance of this lofty agenda was overglossed by self-seeking ulterior motives which hijacked the Songhai programme in the midstream. As it is, the Songhai programme is potent tool which Ogbeni Aregbesola could use to kickstart the home-based personnel component of his agricultural drive.
When in early 2009 the announcement came through the air by the ousted Osun State Government of Brigadier-General Oyinlola, through its Ministry of Local Government, Chieftaincy Affairs and Community Development, requesting unemployed vibrant youths of the state’s origin who had deep-seated interest in agriculture to apply for a training programme at the Songhai Centre, Porto Novo, Republic of Benin, most youths in that category, their parents and other concerned relations breathed a sigh of relief, hyping that the long-awaited employment opportunity which had been elusive had at last come their way. Little did they hope that the newly-emerging scheme would end up a trap of deceit, aimed at further subjecting them to a difficult situation which would be unequalled in their post-graduation years.
The announcement, which was given wide publicity on all the state-owned media stations instructed the youths, who were expected to be university graduates or Higher National Diploma (HND) holders to proceed to the secretariats of their local government council areas of origin to obtain application forms free of charge. In a swift response characteristic of someone that has apparently found what he had been searching for, interested unemployed graduates of Osun State origin jostled and scampered, to the seat of their local councils of origin to obtain the forms, in order not to be left behind in making the best use of the new opportunity, which they viewed as emerging ray of hope, a dawn new era. That was even as most of them found, embarrassingly, that the forms that were claimed to be free were not free afterall. Authorities of most local government councils in the state did not part with the forms until the needy youths were made to cough out some whooping sums of their meagre means.
Though not all unemployed youths in the state were interested in farming; just as it was not all unemployed graduates who were so interested that met the 36-year-old age requirement, the invitation/job vacancy announcement received a rousing response as it was greeted by a multitude of youths and graduates at that, whose disciplines cut across different fields of human endeavour. Really, it was a parade ground for different age grades as several classes of young graduates, including those with fair measure of hoary hairs and ageing lines milled in for the application forms.
The mammoth crowd that greeted the Songhai training invitation is characteristic of any similar call for job application in this part of the nation where graduates are present in large number without surety of a timely employment after school. Prior to that year’s call for Songhai training in agriculture, many youths had been subjected to hardship, disappointments and frustration occasioned by dashed hopes of securing employment under various job selection exercises that came up earlier; such as Osun State Civil Service Commission, Osun State Universal Basic Education Board, Teaching Service Commission or even, the Reality Television, Iwo and the Osun State University (UNIOSUN) which was much flatulently celebrated.
For some of these graduate applicants, it was not that they did not have some kind of job in hand. The fact of the case was that the job they held was just not enough as a means of livelihood. A good number of them had got employed in the private sector, mainly in private educational institutions, while others were in ad hoc employment of the State Government of the time, especially Oyin Corp in this regard. The common feature with all these engagements was that they offered the youths mere stipends which could neither commensurate with their levels of academic attainment and years of certification nor meet up with their ever-surging responsibilities.
The foregoing analysis became necessary to make readers asses the true situation with the affected youths, so as not to keep anyone in ignorance of what could push graduates into a farming scheme organized by a state government under a political dispensation which lacked focus and secretion. This feeling that a government that operated under the aegis of a political party could not pursue such scheme to a logical conclusion was justified, especially with the wishy-washy performance of the Oyinlola administration in all schemes embarked upon. The Graduate Gainful Employment Scheme, the Multi-Purpose Micro-Credit Scheme, Fadama Credit Scheme, Government-Guaranteed Agricultural Loan Scheme, Osun State Micro-Credit Agency Fund for Agricultural Development and Osun State Agricultural Youth Empowerment Programme (OSSAYEP) – all came and passed as figurehead, money-gulping programmes which their initiators intended them to be, without fulfilling the yearnings and aspiration of the people of Osun State in the least.
If on the basis of the abysmal failure of these earlier programmes we attempted to blame the youths who took up the Songhai programme, our assessment would not be fair enough. The fact is that we are in a world unlimited opportunities and as human organisms; we continue to explore new opportunities until our lots are bettered. More so, the initiators of each new programme make them so attractive in their branding and definition, so much that our minds are made to trust that each new programme would not be a failure that its preceding counterpart had been

To be continued..


Ondo Raises N1bn To Boost Agriculture

Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo StateONDO State Government has raised 1.5m cocoa seedlings for onward distribution to farmers in the state in accordance with Governor Olusegun Mimiko’s 12-point agenda to boost agriculture

The deputy governor of the state, Alhaji Alli Olanusi stated this while briefing newsmen on the National Cocoa Day, held in Umahia Capital of Abia state.

According to him, the state government is determined to reposition Ondo State in her proper place in the area of agricultural development, particularly Cocoa production, which was the main stay of the state’s economy before the advent of petroleum resources.

He stated further that the state government’s goal on cocoa rebirth was premised on increase production through modern-day farming methods, improved technology and research, adding that the state government would encourage massive plantation for large scale farmers, co-operatives and communities.

The deputy governor also disclosed that the state government would improve the marketing strategies in the state, so as to ensure better and stable prices for farmers in the state and that the existing grading fees would be reviewed with a view to making the fees competitive to the advantage of farmers.

Concerning government policy on free cocoa drink for primary school pupils in a bid to promote its local consumption, Olanusi revealed that it was not feasible at the moment in Ondo State following the low production capacity of cocoa processing factories in the state.

He regretted that the two processing factories in the state, Ile-Oluji Cocoa Industries and Starmark Cocoa Industries are presently not processing at installed-capacity.

According to him, “the state government cannot give what it does not have; hence, it is impracticable that the policy works in this state.”

-From FUNSHO OJO, Akure