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.