Dr Abayomi Olaniyan, Executive Director, National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT), Ibadan, has commended the giant stride of Gov. Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, in agriculture development.
Olaniyan spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Ibadan, on the assessment of two years of Gov. Makinde-led government in the state.
“In the past two years in office, Gov. Seyi Makinde has contributed immensely to agricultural development in the state,” he said.
The executive director acknowledged Makinde’s inputs in the flagged off of the Exploratory Dialogue of the United Nations Food Systems Summit in the South-West Geo-Political zone.
He commended the governor for allowing the stakeholders to change the face of agriculture by ensuring the realisation of five action plans.
The plans include, ensuring access to safe and nutritious food for all; shift to sustainable consumption pattern, and post nature positive production.
“He established the agriculture business development agency (OYSAIDA); he upgraded the existing farm settlements to farm estates to enhance value addition to our agricultural produce.
“He introduced agricultural programmes for youths (STEP-OYO) in order to challenge the mindset of youths and expose them to viable opportunities in agriculture business from a young age.
“The Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, in collaboration with Oyo State Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, organised a dialogue series across the six geo-political zones to tackle food security challenges.
“In a bid to accelerate the implementation and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, the Secretary- General of UN will convene a summit on food systems in September, 2021.
“This is to develop the future direction of global food systems and inspire other necessary actions.
“The Oyo State Committee on Food and Nutrition (SCFN), coordinated by the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, is actively complementing the efforts of the state government to improve nutritional status for children, women and other groups in the state.
“We recently launched the four-year Action Plan on Food and Nutrition, which became operational with the implementation of the year 2021 budget,” he said.
According to him, the governor has chosen agriculture and agribusiness as priority for the state, and by virtue of that, he has put in place the right type of policy.
He said the state government was developing infrastructure across the state, adding this is driving more of the private sector to invest in agricultural areas.
Olaniyan advised Makinde to ensure that strategies and policies were implemented to boost food production in the state.
He urged the governor to always put the right peg in a right hole when considering human, capital and physical resources to be used.
“For example, there are specific institutions with specific mandate crops which he needs to consider and collaborate with.
“Our national research institutes should be considered when thinking of boosting food production.
“We have all seen that the issue of change in climate is a reality, thus efforts should be geared toward provision of irrigation facilities, working in conjunction with River Basins, just like it’s happening in the North, irrigation is the order of the day.
“Our government and farmers should be aware and rise up to the task so as to guide against low productivity or no productivity at all, which can lead to hunger and poverty,” he said.
The NIHORT executive director said farmers should be encouraged to embark on good agricultural practices to enable them to produce for both local and international markets.
Olaniyan said that gender issues should be well considered by government in any agricbusiness plans/policy.
“The number of grassroots extension agents should be increased by government, real farmers, not political farmers, should be given adequate priority at any stage of agribusiness, empowerment and capacity building.
“Also, the issue of value addition and marketing is germane to food production.
“With an enabling environment, determination and passion for food security and nutrition, agriculture is capable of improving the economy of the state and the nation at large.
“Horticulture holds the key for quick returns on investment and sustainable wealth creation for all categories of farmers and actors along the value chain.
“NIHORT, with national mandate for horticultural research for development in Nigeria, is readily available and willing to partner with the state toward agricultural development,” he said.