As the prices of crude oil continue to drop, coupled with glut of oil in the global oil market, the attention of most countries who had in the past depended on oil as their major income are gradually drifting towards agriculture as the only panacea to their sudden economic downturn.
Nigeria, being a major oil producing and exporting nation in the world had also hitherto depended on oil as the largest chunk of its foreign exchange thereby neglecting the agric sector for many years.
During those years of neglect, a lot of rural roads that lead to farmlands which were supposed to be the undisturbing major source of income for the country had been neglected, hence leaving a lot of those roads in a very bad state and leaving a lot of the rural areas where there are large farmlands inaccessible.
The nation is going through recession and it has become very obvious that the only way out of such economic quagmire is for all and sundry to go back to our root and embrace farming in a subsistence, massive and commercial proportion.
If anyone wants to go into farming in any of these proportion, then the only way to go is to settle in the rural areas where one can find large expanse of land to farm in large quantities.
For a nation or state to get into farming in large proportion, rural farmers need to be encouraged in a lot of ways and one of such ways is by making their farms motorable and accessible so as to easily transport their farm produce to various markets around them.
Aregbesola and the Osun Rural Access and Mobility Project, Osun RAMP can then be described as a match from heaven downturn going by the huge impact the activities of Osun RAMP has had on rural communities through the construction and rehabilitation of roads.
The state of Osun being an agrarian state is made up of many rural areas with vast farmland which needs accessible roads to allow the farmers in such communities to transport their farm produce to nearby markets for sale.
It was therefore a huge respite to the government and the people of Osun through the efforts of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola when the state was chosen as one of the lucky states to benefit from the RAMP intervention through the World Bank and the French Development Agency in the construction and rehabilitation of rural roads across the state so as to assist farmers in the transportation of their goods to the cities and in return boost the economy of the state through farming.
The project in Osun is being implemented and supervised by the State Project Implementation Unit (SPIU), a body made up of heads of state government agencies and parastatals; chief among them is the Ministry of works and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, and through its activities, the project has had a wider impact on the affected communities by providing accessibility which has brought livelihoods to the poor and at the same time boosted the economy of the state.
The Aregbesola administration and Osun RAMP met a lot of the rural roads in a state of disrepair, but the story of many of these roads have changed significantly today, as lot of the roads are now wearing new looks and farmers and traders alike are now experiencing boom in their marketing activities.
Commercial activities in many of the said communities have now doubled because their markets are now flooded with varieties of farm produce on every market day.
A lot of communities which had formerly been cut off by rivers from major markets now have access to the markets because Osun RAMP have succeeded in constructing bridges that will stand the test of time for them.
Some of the communities in Osun where river crossings or bridges were constructed include: Elewonta in Iwo, Olomu stream in Irewole local government, Iree Polytechnic road in Boripe, Olukesi farm – Oju eri in Boluwaduro local government, Ipon Stream in Odo-Otin, Odo Owere in Ede North local government, Gbalefe road, Modakeke in Ife east, as well as Oke-Aho stream located at Sekona in Ife North local government.
Others are: Faweri river in Ife South local government, Ogbaagba Ogudu, Odo Oroki in Obokun local government, Opa bridge in Odunrin via Ipetumodu, Oyile River in Ilasetown, Oyi Adunni in Oke-Ila among others.
The impact of the RAMP intervention on rural roads in Osun cannot be overemphasised as most of the rural dwellers are now happier going by the fact that they are able to do what they know how to do best with ease.
Gone are the days when they have to trek long distances of bad roads before they get to their farms, as transporting their produce to the market is now much easier and the various rural markets are now much more busy than it used to be simply because a lot of farmers can now bring their goods to the market.
Traders on some rural market days across the state have testified to the fact that they now make brisk business as a result of the accessibility to their various markets, saying that they now get a lot of patronage from people living in urban centres.
Food and beverage vendors in the communities now make more money as more people now visit the rural areas as a result of good roads; urban dwellers are now able to take their cars to rural communities without the fear that bad roads may cause a breakdown of their cars.
Lumbering activities in most of the rural communities have also increased tremendously because their Lorries no longer get stucked in mud during rainy season.
New private schools as well as petrol filling stations are now springing up on a daily basis in most of the rural communities; this is because the roads are now motorable and the volume of cars plying the roads are now more than it used to be. Good roads as they say, truly aid rapid development of an area.
Some of the roads rehabilitated and constructed by the Osun RAMP include: 13.7km Agbowu-Aba onile roads, 13.73km Ogbaagba-Eleru-Bode Osi roads, 3.1km Asa-Dagbolu-Ajagunlase road, the 12.73km Ikonifin-Sade-Ajagunlase road, 11.1km Agoro-Ikonifin road, the 4.38km Pataara-Ileko Oba farm settlement road and the 4.38km Akinyele-Aba ayo-Isero road.
Others are: 3.91km Eeleke-Kanko road, 10.5km Jagun Osi/Onikoko-Osi-Sooko Road, 9.3km Ara Joshua-Yinmi Oja road, 10.9km Gbengbeleku junction-Owode Amu road, 39.164km Shasha road, the 3km Ilesa-Ilo Olomo boundary, 8.8km Ilesa-Odogbo-Igbowiwi road, 6.58km Odogbo-Iwara road.
Also touched by the intervention are roads such as the 1km Isale general township road in Ilesa, the 10.5km Isale General Hospital-Muroko-Okebode road, 10.7km Ira-Ikeji ile-Oligeri-Iragbiji road, Ira-Ibete road, Ikeji Arakeji-Aikulola road, the 10.8km Idiroko/Akinyele farm settlement, the 18.7km Mokore farm settlement road, 30km Orile Owu-Ago Owu-Ogedengbe road, 20km Alaguntan forest reserve road among others.
And just recently, precisely in November, the government of Osun took its drive to opening Osun to the world through road infrastructures which flagged off with the construction of another 1 kilometre access road to Olumirin Water Falls being sponsored by the Government of the State of Osun with the implementation to be carried out by Osun Rural Access and Mobility Project.
The solution to the current economic downturn in the nation is the opening of rural roads that lead to farm settlements and Osun RAMP is doing just that in the state of Osun.