The recent 3rd edition of the First Bank Agric Expo in Lagos was an opportunity for some states in the country to share strategies for driving the Agric sector which is a critical contributor to the local economy.
Mr. Akinola Olotu Senior Special Adviser on Agric and Agribusiness to the Ondo State Government gave a presentation on the activities in the Agro sector, under the administration of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu.
According to him, there is a silent revolution going on in the Agric sector in the state, as the Governor is focused on developing the entire Agri-business value chain.
He acknowledged that Ondo state has the largest cassava ethanol processing plant in Nigeria, which is currently being utilized by the state government to improve industrialization.
Speaking further Olotu informed stakeholders that Ondo state is also partnering with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, in the production of ethanol, with 15,000 hectares of land dedicated to the cultivation of cassava through mechanization.
"When you are running a large scale farm in Nigeria it is like running a local government and it makes the product unmarketable because of cost of production" Olotu said.
He argued that farmers need to be supported with subsidies in the country to enable them scale their operations.
The SSA noted that Ondo state is currently working on an egg processing plant that processes 1million eggs per day, he noted that by the time the company takes off, the annual problem of egg scarcity in the country will become a thing of the past.
Speaking further, the SSA to the governor said that the largest subsidy we have today in Nigeria is not oil subsidy but subsidy to farmers.
He added that Ondo State had 3 mechanization centres based on a private public partnership, PPP, approach. Olotu called on the Honourable Minister of Agriculture to promote and encourage the value chain development of cocoa, crop cashew, and rubber.
He recalled that in 2018 the Governor gave out 500,000 seedlings of cocoa to farmers in the state free of charge and this was repeated this year which implies that in Ondo state today even at 70% survival rate, about 700,000 young cocoa seedlings are growing somewhere in the State.
In the Oil Palm area , he identified four (4) companies working on a minimum of 10,000 hectares of oil palm farm land in the State.
He called for the revamping of research institutes in Nigeria like the National Institute For Oil Palm Research, NIFOR.
Speaking further on NIFOR, he was of the opinion that Nigeria should not overlook research because the countries present crop yield is far below potential.
The SSA informed farmers and other stakeholders at the 2019 Agric Expo that one of the best rubber plantation in Nigeria comes from Ondo State.
According to him, over 5,000 youth have been trained to drive the Ondo State Agricultural value chain. He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the Home Grown School Feeding Program, HGSF, which he said was geared towards improving the economy.
Lagos; Food Value Chain Enhancement
The Honorable Commissioner Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture Prince Gbolahan Lawal on his part said the focus of the government, would be harnessing the full potential of the Agro-allied industry value chain as an integral part of the fourth pillar of its agenda of making Lagos state a 21st century economy.
He said that the states policy objective was to protect the state in respect of food security and is anchored on its Strategic Programme on Accelerated Agricultural Growth (SPAAG).
Under the programme, Gbolahan said the State would improve its status in respect of food crop production, livestock production, increase value addition and employment opportunities for women and youth including those living with disabilities through an enhanced agricultural value chain. He noted this would be especially true, where the state has comparative and competitive advantage like aqua culture, livestock, vegetable, rice, and Agro processing.
The Agriculture Commissioner also promised to establish more farm estates, construct or rehabilitate farm access roads, provide farm input and also introduce new Agro processing and packaging plants in Lagos.
"On our part, we will continue to create an enabling environment for active participation of the private sector in the agricultural value chain as a strategy to achieving food security, job creation and increase the contribution of the non-oil sector to the gross domestic product," He said.