The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the Oyo State Government on Wednesday signed a deal to develop an agricultural blueprint for the state, and the establishment of agribusiness park.
The agricultural policy will clearly outline the opportunities, strengths, weaknesses, threats, and more importantly what the state needs to do in the short, medium, and long -term to achieve agricultural transformation.
The second component of the deal is the development of an integrated cassava value chain in Gambari area of Oyo state on about 6000 – hectares. The integrated agribusiness park would be developed in phases, from primary production of roots, construction and installation of machineries and the processing of starch, ethanol etc. and marketing of the finished product to industries.
According to Governor Abiola Ajimobi, the project will be funded by the state government,
“Our aim is to boost food production, create jobs and wealth for our people,” Governor Ajimobi, who was represented by the Commissioner of Agriculture, Prince Oyewole Oyewumi at the Funds Release Programme on Wednesday, said.
Initial investment for the first phase of the project will cost N55million, with additional investments expected to come in as implementation commences. Besides the development of an agric policy, this first phase will focus on the cultivation of between 50 – 150 hectares to cassava.
Dr Kenton Dashiell, IITA Deputy Director, Partnerships for Delivery, commended the state for engaging IITA and committing resources to finance the project.
“We are glad to see Oyo state moving forward with an action plan to transform agriculture and are honored to be part of their team,” Dr Dashiell said.
Located in the south west Nigeria, Oyo state is characterized by Derived savannah in the north and Humid Forest in the south. These two agroecologies support a diversity of staple crops such as cassava, maize, soybean, yam, banana/plantains, and cash crops such as cashew and citrus among others.
“The collaboration goes to show how Oyo state has become serious with agriculture,” Dr Nteranya Sanginga, IITA Director General said in a statement from Nairobi.
Under the policy component of the deal, IITA will work with the National Institute of Social and Economic Research (NISER), Oyo State Ministry of Agriculture, and the Oyo State Agricultural Development Program. It is envisaged that the policy will drive the agricultural sector by attracting private capital to the state, and in fact making the state the most preferred agro-allied investment destination in Nigeria.
The Director for Development & Delivery, IITA, Dr Alfred Dixon described the event as a significant moment aimed at bringing genuine transformation to Oyo state in general, and resource-poor farmers in particular.
In the last eight years, the Oyo State government has embarked on reforms to transform its economy through diversification with emphasis on agriculture. The state believes that the era of relying on the federal government for oil revenues are fast becoming over.