The Permanent Secretary, Ondo State Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Odusanya Segun, in this interview with JOHN OBA, x-rays the state government’s strides in the agriculture sector.
As a representative of Ondo state in this meeting, what is your analysis of the government’s performance in the agriculture sector? I want to appreciate the present administration, in fact, job creation through agriculture is the number one priority.
The governor has a very tall ambition agricultural wise and he is doing everything possible to better the lives of farmers in Ondo state.
For instance, we have a programme called “youth on the ridges,” where 18,000 youths are engaged for training and empowerment in the entire agriculture value chains.
That is very ambitious.
The governor has established 2000 hectares of cocoa plantations at Judgere in Owo.
We have embarked on data capturing of all farmers in the state, procured and distributed 1000 metric tons of fertiliser to various farms service centres.
The governor has approved two billion Naira Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme for our farmers and has established oil palm clusters in the state’s Southern senatorial district with PPP arraignment.
And has also embarked on rehabilitation and strengthening of existing farm settlements in the state and rejuvenates existing moribund fish hatcheries across the state.
(Interruption) Like I said before, the Governor has been trying, he is empowering 18000 youths and he has established 18000 hectares of cocoa farms.
He is supporting all the external financing, paid the state N98 million counterparts contribution for FADAMA III addition financing, and has been encouraging investors to come to Ondo State.
As we speak, there is an egg powder factory being established, there is a cattle fattening ranch being constructed through PPP arrangement.
Now we have more investors coming to partner with us on agricultural projects.
The Governor’s number one programme is job creation through agriculture.
And I want to say he has done alot in this regard. You talked about the establishment of rice mill, how far has this gone? Ondo gov has tall ambition in agric – Segun Segun The Permanent Secretary, Ondo State Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Odusanya Segun, in this interview with JOHN OBA, x-rays the state government’s strides in the agriculture sector.
Yes, this is part of the PPP arrangement.
Dangote and the Lagos state government are coming to establish this.
Other investors are also coming for this rice project.
So what is the stage now? For Dangote and Lagos state government, the process is on.
Hopefully we will move to the field this month .
Any work on the area of livestock or Abattoir? Is the government doing anything to ensure there are standard abattoirs in the state? Yes, we have commissioned the semi mechanised in the state.
One is in Akure.
We are doing well in this regard too.
I told you before that there is a cattle fattening project ongoing at Oka Akoko.
And this year the semi mechanised abattoirs will be handed over to the private individuals to manage it as part of efforts to enhance hygienic meat processing and quality control in the state.
One is to be established in One and another may be in Owo or Akungba.
The process is ongoing to sign the memorandum of understanding (MoU) to this effect.
So soon we will have three semi mechanised abattoirs in the state.
But the already existing ones, are there efforts to ensure that they meet the standard health wise? Yes we are looking at that and we are also encouraging more private partners to come and invest in the sector.
The state government has strengthened our veterinary clinics.
Before now, we don’t absorb veterinary corps members but in order to strengthen this health aspect, the state government has given the go ahead to engage them and government is working to engage more Veterinary doctors to strengthen the sector.
You talked about land clearing in the meeting, so how far has the government gone about this? Land clearing is a very expensive project, so for now the state government is leveraging on the windows provided by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) which is the Accelerated Agric Development Scheme from which N1.5 billion will be accessed and this will be used majorly for land clearing and development of trade crops in the state.
We are also talking with some private partners that could establish what we call the “Land Bank”.
When they come in, the community will provide the land, these private investors will clear, and hired out, and the farmers will be paying their rent yearly on the land.
That is still under consideration on land clearing/land bank scheme.
On cocoa, Ondo state was one of the highest cocoa producing states, but as it is now, this sector seems not to be productive as before.
What is being done one this? We are establishing 2000 hectares of cocoa plantation in the state at Jugbere.
President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to be in Ondo state any time from now, tentatively in the first week of August to relaunch cocoa production in the state.
Then we have other cocoa farms that are being revagorated and maintained to meet expectation.
And we are raising alot of cocoa seedlings, currently we have over 500,000 cocoa seedlings that would soon be distributed to farmers as highly subsided .
So these are some of the efforts to improve cocoa production in the state.
So are there efforts being made on processing? The state government chocolate factory is nearing completion now.
This will add value to the cocoa sector.
The type of cocoa we produce some years ago won an award in London.
So we are partnering with a US based Chocolate factory to establish one in Ondo.
Most of the equipment has been installed at Slade Idure, so in a couple of months, we will start production.
So like how many employment opportunities are we expecting through this.
Especially agriculture in Ondo state, how many people is employed in the sector? The Governor has a very tall ambition for the state.
First, he has given us a mandate to employ 18,000 youths to be trained and empowered in all the value chain of agriculture.
We are trying to encourage all our community associations in Oil Palm, Cocoa, Kolanut etc because we have a very strong farmers congress under the Ondo State Agri-Business Empowerment Centre (OSAEC) to form cooperatives where they can leverage on the Anchor Borrowers Scheme, the government is drawing on for support in this regard.
We are also into Igba Otun broiler production, where our poultry farmers will be encouraged.
There is partnership between a private investor and the state government where the state is commuting over N300 million to this effect to empower the livestock farmers.
For the poultry farmers, they will be given chicks, feeds and other inputs, at the end of six to seven weeks, off-takers will collect them.
So we have a ready market for that, so there are lots going on in that regard.
So what do we expect to see in the life of this administration on agriculture? Agriculture is one of the priority area of this administration, the governor is supporting both private investors, using external financing.
The state is paying it Counterparts funds for programmes in agriculture and engaging youth.