Olufemi Atoyebi, Ibadan
The Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, has alleged that youths, working at some of the farm settlements, established by the state government, have deserted the farms because the youths do not have interest in agriculture.
Ajimobi, who addressed representatives of AFGRI in Ibadan, on Friday, said the state was positioning itself to become the food basket of the nation because of its agrarian population and arable land mass.
AFGRI is a leading South African agriculture firm with presence in many parts of the world.
Ajimobi said, “Before this government came in, we have nine farm settlements where we practised farming. But some of these settlements have been deserted due to lack of interest.
“What we are doing now is to concentrate on agriculture because of its multiplier effect. It creates employment and provides food security. Apart from these, it allows for safe society because when the people are busy and well fed, they will not involve themselves in violence.”
The governor told the representatives of the company, led by its Managing Director for Africa, Tommi Snyman, and its Operation Manager, Peter Griesel, that the state would be interested in a partnership that would ensure mass employment and training of its people.
He added that about 60 per cent of agricultural produce in the state rot away because of lack of modern storage facility, poor handling, processing and transportation.
The governor said, “In terms of agriculture, the state is the largest producer of cassava in West Africa. It ranks 5th in maize production and in grain production, the state is among the top ranked states. You are coming to a state that is well positioned to partner with your proposition.
“Our objective is to become the food basket of the country. When you look at the geography of Nigeria, Oyo State has the largest land mass in the Southern part. This buttresses the fact that the state is well positioned to excel in agriculture.
“For commercial reason and value chain addition, we will be interested in partnering with your company. Our approach is to do a bottom-top system that will involve our people. Research has shown that only about 40 per cent of our farm produce gets to the market, others are destroyed due to lack of proper handling, processing, transportation and modern storage facility.
“We will set up an implementation committee that will look into the partnership and how we can have synergy. We want you to provide mass employment and to train our people.”