By Jimoh Ahmed
The Auga Agric Village is one of the novel projects of the immediate past Governor of Ondo State, Dr Olusegun Mimiko.
The project when conceptualised was to lift the state out of hunger making the state the food basket of the nation.
It was also a means of creating jobs for the teeming unemployed youths of the state.
When it started, over one thousand youths both graduates and young school leavers were given the opportunity to learn the art of farming to make money.
As a matter of fact, during a visit to the village by then governor, this writer was marveled at the rate of success at the place.
Acres of farmland planted with maize on one side and cassava were standing and welcoming visitors right from the entrance that this made visitors to think that the solution to Nigeria’s food problem is right here in Ondo state.
However, the euphoria that greeted the coming of the Auga Agric village was not to be again as the place died some couple of months to its start.
The whole place which was bubbling with life became a ghost of itself. Buildings were abandoned, agricultural equipments and machines were left to fallow.
The novel project which used to be a talk of the town became extinct. It was a sad tale to tell as some of us who used to walk shoulder high, telling the whole world and those who cared to listen about the silent revolution going on in our dear Sunshine State were forced to swallow our pride.
When this writer visited the Agric Village recently, it was in a sorry state of neglect and another agonizing story of abandonment.
The former lively agricultural landscape which used to adorn scenic beauty of green leaves of cassavas and maize was no longer there.
Bushes have replaced the once historic agricultural environment. The buildings overgrown with bushes while reptiles like snakes and lizards made them their abode.
The agricultural machines are lying fallow, rusted and in bad shape.
However, there seems to be a silver lining for the multi million naira project as the present government has come to its rescue.
Kudos must go to the Governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, for believing in reviving the projerct.
Akeredolu’s resolve to continue and vigorously pursue all viable projects of the immediate past administration in the state has given hope to the dead project.
Like the biblical saying that dead bones shall rise again, the Auga Agric village may soon come back to live.
The state government in its pursuit to revive all viable dead factories in the state is poised to make the project work again.
However, this time around government is looking at another frontier to make this happen.
In the style of the present administration through its Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, system, Governor Akeredolu is giving an NGO, the Peace Aid Project(PAP) to use its Midas touch to bring the dead project back to live.
Speaking with this writer, the Ondo State Coordinator of PAP, Mr Eniola Ogunbodede said the outfit is set to make the state a major player in cattle rearing in Nigeria.
He disclosed that when the project is completed it will house 40,000 cows at a go.
The PAP coordinator said youths in the state are going to be empowered through training in modern cattle rearing as the place will be one of the best cattle ranch in the country.
“We are going to have 40,000 cows in our ramps and the youths will be empowered. There will be a fattening section where the youths will be trained in the modern act of cattle rearing”.
He disclosed that the NGO is doing this also as a way of helping to provide solution to the incessant farmers/Fulani herdsmen clashes in the country.
“We are doing this to put an end to the farmers and cattle rearers fight”.
Besides this, Ogunbodede stated that agricultural products like cassava, yam and maize will be produced in large quantity in the village.
He was optimistic that the project will provide jobs for the teeming unemployed youths of the state while it will open the peoples eyes to the fact that one can make millions in farming rather than go into internet fraud popularly called ‘Yahoo’.
Ogunbodede disclosed that the state government is contributing the land and the buildings already on ground as its equity share while the NGO will be fully responsible for the funding.
The Alauga of Auga Akoko, His Royal Majesty, Oba Samuel Kehinde Agunloye thanked the state government for taking steps to revive the dead Agric Village.
Oba Agunloye stated that if the project is revived and brought to live again, the glory of Auga as a town will blossom.
According to the monarch, when the project was established by the then governor of Ondo State, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, Auga became a cynosure of all eyes.
He disclosed that the town was receiving visitors and tourists on daily basis.
The monarch stated that during its blossoming days indigenes of the town gained tremendously from the Agric village as they were taken in as trainees and they made huge monetary gains from the project.
The Alauga who said if the project is fully functional, the town will witness economic growth since more buildings, businesses like hotels and other allied services will spring up in the town appealed to the state government to give the NGO handling the project all necessary support and the enabling environment to operate.
In all the Auga Agric village could be the one sure key the sunshine state is waiting for to unlock the economic potential of the state as agriculture remains a veritable means of earning the revenue to develop its economy.
More youths will be gainfully engaged, businesses will spring up, government will make money to put the necessary infrastructure in place while the people will have more to eat.