Oyo State is a leading producer of numerous fruit and vegetable crops in the country, making the State a key supplier of food for domestic and export markets. Our growers feed people across Nigeria and neighboring West African countries. The agriculture and food sectors are a cornerstone of Oyo State’s economy in both rural communities and urban areas.
Agriculture is knitted into the fabric of Oyo State’s tradition and has been an important part of our culture since the earliest days of the state’s formation in 1976 from the old Western State of Nigeria. The quality and safety of Oyo State’s agricultural products continue to raise the state’s reputation around the country.
Oyo State is endowed with about 32,249 Square Kilometres of the land of which 27,107.93 Square Kilometres is cultivable. The past and present Oyo State governments had an opportunity to provide real relief to Oyo State residents in times of great economic uncertainty. However, insular, biased, and special interests have taken precedence over the interests of the people of Oyo State.
The food crisis being experienced in Oyo State manifests in increased imports of commodities that we have the capacity to produce in abundance or have local substitutes for. We import expensive food, displacing local production and creating massive unemployment. Import dependency is neither acceptable nor sustainable fiscally, economically or politically. While Nigeria once provided 18% of the global production of cocoa with Oyo State being the major contributor, second in the world in the 1960s, that figure is now down to 8%.
Oyo State has neglected the food items in which it has a competitive advantage and has become heavily reliant on imported food items. Youth unemployment is on the rise. The opportunities offered by farming and agro-allied ventures are yet to be tapped while youth increasingly resort to motorcycle riding to earn income.
In recent years, Oyo State agriculture sector has been overloaded with bureaucracy and other crises such as high price of land, which makes it difficult for people to enter farming, lack of better infrastructure for farmers and productive agricultural lands converted into residential or industrial use, the need to monitor the quality of water on the farms, as well as enhanced fiscal benefits for farmers and better access to capital and financial support.
Despite the issues of the present system, Oyo State remained largely an agrarian economy with agriculture accounting for about 56% of her Internal Generated Revenue. This goes to show that agriculture is the major contributor to the Oyo State sector of the economy.
Seyi Makinde believes that the change needed requires a shift in mindset where people stop seeing agriculture as a means of reforming the rural areas but as a means of improving the economy of Oyo State.
Our plan is to improve the productivity of farmers in Oyo State by demonstration farms, strengthen production in areas where the state has a comparative advantage for commercial agriculture and link production to markets.
Our administration will revive rural Oyo State by making a real commitment to the economic stability of farmers while protecting the productive land. We will build the infrastructure in rural communities and fully fund the agriculture programme in the state.
Farmers are business owners and need the same support that other businesses need. They need infrastructure, especially good roads. They need transportation to move their products. They need less regulation so they can grow their products and sell them.
Our administration will call for fewer government regulations in agriculture and create an Agricultural Enhancement Programme, a cost-sharing programme that offers financial assistance to farmers to boost local food production.
Our plans to grow the agriculture sector include but are not limited to:
- Harness emerging opportunities: organic, sustainable and local and food security.
- Eliminate regulatory barriers.
- Protect and manage scarce resources: land, water, energy, labor, capital, and credit.
- Strengthen support services: transportation, technology, education, and marketing.
- Provision of rural infrastructures such as rural and farm settlements roads and hygienic market stalls.
- Availability and timely supply of inputs, (land clearing, fertilizer, improved seeds, seedlings and cassava stem cuttings, and agrochemicals.)
- Provision of timely credit to farmers at single digit interest rates.
- Improved agronomic practices through enhanced extension services.
- Update by end-users of farm produce e.g. factories, plants, local consumption, and export opportunities.
- Establishment of buyback mechanism of grains as buffer stock and as a means of last resort.
- Link up the farmers with private sector processors through a well-established contract farming arrangement that will prevent side selling and buying.
- Upgrading of all the agricultural farm settlements to attract youths to agricultural practices.
- Expansion of the existing schools’ Agricultural Programmes in secondary schools in the state as a form of “catch them young” to agricultural enterprises.
- Youth Empowerment in Agricultural Programme.
- Encouraging dry season vegetable farming along various dams in the State.
- Provision of the conducive environment for the operation of both local and foreign investors; especially roads,
- electricity and water for production and agricultural processing
- Establishment of processing centers.
- Establishment of livestock villages e. g. poultry, pig and fish villages in agricultural zones of the state.
- Measures to be taken to ensure access to land and conserve land for good agricultural practices.
- Strategies needed to open land area with Sustainable Land Management (SLM) practices.
If there is anywhere in Nigeria where a surge of agriculture investments could change the fortunes of the entire country, it is Oyo State. Our vision for the future of Oyo State is simple, create an atmosphere where agricultural business can thrive and success follows.