…Says Osun is Attaining Self-sufficiency in the Production of Staple Commodities
By Waheed Adekunle, Osogbo
The Governor of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has reiterated his administration’s commitment to continuously improve the economy of the state by prioritizing agriculture and forestry development. Aregbesola reassured that his government would leave no stone unturned in its resolve to ensure self-sufficiency in the production of stable commodities in the state.
Governor Aregbesola made the statement while addressing people at the opening of Public Hearing on Shasha Forest Reserve Encroachment, at the Multipurpose Hall, Local Government Service Commission, Government Secretariat, Abere, Osogbo.
Governor Aregbesola who described the two sectors as veritable sources of food, shelter, life sustaining drugs and raw materials for the industries, said the importance of agriculture and forestry to our national economy cannot be over-emphasized.
He said the meeting was called in order to foster the peaceful atmosphere that is needed for the development of the state in accordance with his six-point integral action plan, saying a responsible government, in a developing economy like Nigeria, must give agriculture and forestry prominence in its development plan.
Governor Aregbesola said the goal of his administration was to attaining self-sufficiency in the production of staple commodities through forest renewable and non-renewable, tangible, intangible, quantifiable and unquantifiable natural resources in a bid to take the state to the greater heights.
Aregbesola said considering the global standard prescribed by Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), hence 35 per cent of any nation’s land mass must be forested, stated that
Analyzing his administration’s achievements, Governor Aregbesola said his government has successfully raised 2.5 million seedlings of Tectona Grandis (Teak) and Gmelina Arborea (Igi-Iye) for free distribution in the state in 2014.
He said his government has also, engendered a healthy environment through systematic application of community mobilization, volunteerism, technology and other best practices in waste, flood and vegetal management to attain Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) standard in sanitation, beautification and forest resources management.
According to him, “At the inception of our administration, we put in place the Osun Rural Enterprise and Agriculture Programme (OREAP) to empower farmers through guaranteed inputs, rural infrastructural development and youth training in farming and agro-entrepreneurship.
“Other government interventions are in development of storage facilities and market linkages, development of farm produce processing, especially rehabilitation of the Cocoa Processing Industry at Ede, development of mid-regional market and guaranteed transportation for easy movement of goods and produce.
Governor Aregbesola who condemned the illegal activities being allegedly perpetrated by some people in the Shasha Forest Reserve in Ile-Ife, saying henceforth his government would apply appropriate disciplinary measures on the perpetrators.
“However, in spite of all these efforts by the government to promote agriculture and give those willing to farm access to agriculture land and other farming inputs, some people have been encroaching on government forest reserves.
“It is regrettable that Shasha Forest Reserve in Ile-Ife, which is one of the oldest forest reserves in the country, is at the receiving end of this unsavoury development.
“Encroachment on forest reserves has also been a source of communal tension and conflict generation just as this was contrary to our administration’s resolve towards the promotion of communal peace and harmony.
“Forest encroachers are carrying out illegal activities. They also put up illegal structures and engage in unregulated farming practices, among others. In doing this, they are also denying government essential revenues that would have come into government coffers if they had been law abiding.
“For these reasons and many others, it has become an imperative that we put a stop to encroachment. We must begin by finding the root cause of this obnoxious practices, those who are involved, the extent of damage they have caused, how this is causing communal tension and how to put a permanent stop to it”, Aregbesola added..
He therefore enjoined the citizenry on the need to demonstrate patriotism, maturity and integrity in addressing the issue by cooperating with the committee in giving it useful and reliable information, without holding anything back.
Earlier, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Sanitation and Physical Planing, Architect Wale Ojo, said the committee is determined to carry out the assignment with objective perception and mindset and as well come up with a report that shall be in the public interest and also last for generations.
Architect Ojo who described the meeting as a necessary call, said the interaction session was imperative sequel to the report received on the alleged illegal entry, demarcation, re-allocation and farming at Shasha Forest Reserve, Ile-Ife.
Speaking on the purposes of forest, Architect Ojo stated that, forest is conserved for significant benefits which include: amelioration of Climate Change; Provision of Shelter for our Wildlife, Provision of raw materials for our industries, Provision of materials for drug industries, Provision of water shed for our streams and rivers , research purposes.
He frowned at the alleged illegal entries, demarcation and re-allocation in Ife Shasha forest reserve, saying farming on such a forest like this remains an inhuman act which must be thoroughly dealt with.
According to him, “All these are anti-thetical to the purpose of keeping the forest and are therefore not in the public interest.
“The report that came to the Government is that illegal entries, demarcation and re-allocation as well as farming have been taking place in the Forest Reserve.
“All these are anti-thetical to the purpose of keeping the Forest and are therefore not in the public interest.
“Forest is conserved for significant purposes such as amelioration of Climate Change; Provision of Shelter for our Wildlife, Provision of raw materials for our industries, Provision of materials for drug industries, Provision of water shed for our streams and rivers , research purposes”, he added.
Architect Ojo who described Governor Aregbesola as a man peace, urged him not to relent to continuously engender peaceful-coexistence among the citizenry.
He said, “Mr. Governor, being number one Omoluabi who believes in peaceful resolution of disputes through dialogue, has therefore allowed the public hearing by an Inter-ministerial Committee.
In his address, President, Forestry Association of Nigeria and Professor of Forest Economic and Sustainable Development, University of Ibadan, Prof. Labode Popoola, lamented over the indiscriminate deforestation in the country said the time has come for government at all levels to rise against the occurrence in order to save the country from adverse effects of global warming and climatic change.
Prof. Popoola who condemned the clearing of forest majorly for farming confirmed that 400, 000 hectares of forest is lost annually through what he described as shifting cultivation.
He said the history of forest is as traceable as history of man, saying forest provides home to nearly 300 million people just as over 1.6 billion people across the world earn their livelihood security in, and from forest.
Prof. Popoola said though forest is a source of good agricultural land and environmental legacy, but there is a need for government to gazette on the intensive agriculture not extensive agriculture.
He called on the state government to expedite action capable of protecting the reserve forests across the state in order to entrench the socioeconomic and environmental benefits of the forests.
Prof. Popoola also charged the state to promote community based Forest Management, Private Forestry, Joint Forest Management and Participatory Forest Management respective in the interest of the state.
He noted that the only panacea to rescue the world from the menace of global pollution and warming was for all to develop the spirit of protection and conservation on the reserve forests.
According to him, ” Forest is life, and there abound enough evidence that those who grow it, care for it and conserve it.
“As diversely perceived, forest in our society are viewed as just “bush” a nuisance, a dangerous place for demons and evil spirits, wild animals that can harm but it remains an ecosystem where human existence lies on.
” Though we need to go back to land to farm, but it has to be systematically and intensively planned because sustainable agriculture does not imply creating environmental crisis”, he added.
In his remarks, the President, Ife Progressive Forum, Chief Lawrence Olajire Awoyoyin urged the State Government to come up with a modality that will put an end to the lingering controversy over the reserve forest in Ile-Ife.
He said there is an urgent need for government to strengthen the prohibition laws and gazettes guarding against indiscriminate deforestation in the state.
Chief Awoyoyin who advised government to continuously provide necessities at protecting the forests for general benefits, adding that until a permanent stop is being put in place, the challenges would be on increase.
He lamented over the continuous clearing of the forest site, saying proper measures must be put in place to end the illegal action.
Chief Awoyoyin therefore implored the state to set up a formidable adversary committee and task force so as to fast track and facilitate the activities of the forest.
” If truly we want to turn around the socioeconomic and environmental benefits of this forest, there is need to restrict those perpetrators who have been profusely destroying the forest.
“In addition, the state government must also provide the basic needs to the state Ministry of Environment, Sanitation and Physical Planning so as to ensure proper protection of this forest”, he stressed.