- Contribute 100,000 hectares to agro-investor
BY FRANK OYAKHILOME
THE Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose has urged the Federal Government to declare state of emergency in the agriculture sector to boost government’s commitment to the diversification of the economy while declaring open the 2016 Ekiti Agriculture Summit held in Ado Ekiti recently.
Fayose said that the step was also imperative in view of the dwindling revenue from the oil sector, adding that the Federal Government should devote more funds to the sector as none of the 36 states could solely fund agriculture without the intervention of the Federal Government.
The Governor reiterated that the Federal Government should declare emergency in the agriculture sector and there must be a bailout fund for the agriculture sector, adding that what Nigerians need is food on their tables.
Fayose sad with the ongoing in the country bemoaned the State inabilities to diversify due to financial incapacitation and thus demanded that the Federal Government must come to the State government aid to bail the sector out.
The Governor who explained that when emergency is declared in the sector and people would be attracted to farming and the gains to run around and better their lives, also urged the Federal Government to do more in boosting electricity generation in the country as well as provide storage facilities to add value to agricultural products.
He noted that some of the farm products cannot be processed into finished goods because of epileptic power supply, as farmers are losing a chunk of their resources because of lack of storage facilities and called on the Federal government to must please address this.
However, Fayose warned that no teacher should engage students in private farming acting activities, noting that those caught in the past had been pardoned, as he approved the donation of 100,000 hectares of land to investors, who are willing to embark on farming to improve agricultural production in Ekiti.
The state Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mr KehindeOdebunmi, who disclosed this while addressing participants at the ongoing 2016 Agric. Summit, added that the government was ready to offer incentives to individuals and corporate bodies willing to invest in farming and other farm-based commercial activities in any part of the state.
Odebunmi explained that the incentives were to create agribusiness and investment-friendly environment, capable of revolutionizing agriculture as a big-time revenue earner in the state and enjoined the people of the state to embrace farming by cultivating lands in their neighborhoods or farmsteads to plant stable food crops.
The commissioner noted that such efforts were capable of becoming something tangible in the long run, as the state strives to overcome its current economic problems as agriculture remains the only sure way to get the country out of its economic woes.
The Minister of Agriculture, Chief AuduOgbeh, represented by the Director, Federal Ministry of Agriculture in Ekiti, Dr LadipoKolade, speaking during the summit, said the sector was now being taken seriously as in the past, as Nigeria could boast of good investment in groundnut, cocoa and palm oil.
Ogbeh noted that these were resources of the country’s foreign earnings as there was pride and economic boom until things changed for the bad, adding that President Muhammadu Buhari’s government is supporting the farmers through the CBN agricultural loan scheme.
The Agric Minister noted that no fewer than 94,972 farmers are to benefit under the loan scheme in the 2016 budget alone and promised that the current government want to improve agric business in Nigeria for the Nation to move forward.
Chief Afe Babalola, a legal luminary and founder of Afe Babalola University during his speech called for 50 percent reduction in agriculture-related courses in Nigerian universities to encourage youths in acquiring professional skills in agricultural production and noted that his university had begun encouraging young people to venture into agriculture by slashing tuition fee for students offering agriculture.