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Monday, January 17, 2022

Tapping into Agricultural Value Chain in Ondo

AGRICULTURE has remained the mainstay of any nation, and the sustaining force for the continual existence of mankind. Irrespective of the development and technological advancement of any society, the death of agriculture is the end of their civilization.
THE HOPE sadly observes that Nigeria is a nation whose initial growth and development was hinged on agriculture, but lost the understanding of the fact that the discovery of oil was an instrument to develop the Agriculture sector, and not strangulate it to death. Nigeria farmers have, unfortunately and regrettably remained at the level of subsistence farming over the years, thus impoverishing the farmers and those engaged in Agribusiness.
THE HOPE applauds the current ‘revival’ of the agriculture sector but small scale farmers are not integrated into global markets, making them uncompetitive. This has made Nigeria(ns) rely more on imports, thereby exacerbating the high cost of consumptions and by extension promoting poverty. Therefore, we applaud all efforts at promoting Agribusiness as critical strategic move at integrating agricultural small scale enterprises into the national and global markets in order to create more jobs as well as meet local and global food demands.
ARAKUNRIN Akderedolu-led administration has over the years, and quite recently understood the comparative advantage of Ondo State in the area of agriculture and has taken commendable steps to revolutionise and market the State’s agricultural capacities.
WITH the inauguration of the Cocoa Stakeholders Council, it is expected that there would be a boost in the production capacities of the State, provision of more jobs, and production of higher market valued cocoa in the international market. We encourage the Council to also borrow a leaf from Madagascar and partner with the World Bank in order to achieve their goals.
IN the same vein, 0SIAFFA 2021 is a timely programme that would achieve its aim of having ‘a successful Agribusiness in challenging times’. However, we are of the opinion that the programmes needs more publicity at local government levels and the nation as a whole as thisprogramme would enable global networking and synergy development in Agribusiness. While publicity for the programmes is necessary, it is also important that events at the programme should be made available on various viewing platforms for all to connect virtually and benefit from it.
HOWEVER, we need to point out the fact that these programmes are not enough for Nigeria, and especially Ondo State farmers to tap from. Currently, Africa’s food market, valued about US$313 billion in 2013 is expected to hit the US$1 trillion in 2030. Ondo State needs to strategise, educate and sensitize the current farmers and initiates to tap from this vast agriculture business portfolio now and in the years to come. The government of Ondo State needs to embark on serious and durable infrastructural development in order to tap into these huge markets.
THE HOPE specifically insists on the building of solid roads networks to all production and marketing outlets of agricultural produces; expand agripreneur access to constant and reliable electricity, water supply (for irrigation, consumption and production); developed and increased access to local and global communication technology.
ADDED to these is the need for access to technology driven production of farm produces; good storage systems and periodic training and retraining of agripreneurs and farmers. Furthermore, there must be deliberate synergy between the Ondo State government, tertiary institutions and farmers to procure, produce and use improved seeds and methods in the production and preservation of agricultural products, in preparation for favourable market competitions.
WHILE access to favourable bank loans to farmers and other entrepreneurs is a non-negotiable necessity in tapping into the agriculture value chain, government should also be ready to make special funds available for Agriculture based researches and education.
FINALLY, since agribusiness is global, physical and e-markets, Ondo State must create a platform for local farmers to integrate and communicate effectively with the markets. This linkage would therefore ensure that foreign investors would be able to communicate and access local farmers directly in their local government areas and farm settlements. With the dwindling Federal allocations, and the need to diversify the economy, investments in agriculture at this time would not only prevent impending famine, but would also ensure that Ondo State becomes the Egypt of the Joseph’s days.

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