By Henry Odeh
As part of efforts to ensure food security and strengthening of Agriculture sector as one of the mainstays of Oyo state economy in Nigeria, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in collaboration with Wesniagric Summit, PAN, AFAN, ECOWAS Farmers & Fison, and Oyo State government held a 2-day International Agribusiness Exhibition and Expo in Ibadan, the capital city of Oyo state.
The visual and physical exhibition of ECOWAS Aviana Aviv West Africa International Expo 2021 themed “Knowing the technicalities in facing the challenges pose by the COVID-19 and Avian Influenza in Livestock sector and Agribusiness in Nigeria” held on 2nd and 3rd September, at the International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan, Ibadan.
Some of the side attractions at the expo include Aviana-aviv (poultry, Livestock, Diary, Acquaculture and equipments), Aviana-aviv Agrochemicals, seeds, fertilizers, equipments & tractors), and Aviana-aviv Agro-foods expo (cereals, precessed, baked, noodles, condiments, drinks, seafood and soyfoods).
Speaking at the event which also hosted various Farmers Association in the state, the Executive Adviser on Agribusiness to Oyo state Governor, Dr Debo Akanade who doubles as the Director General of Oyo state Agribusiness Development Agency spoke on behalf of the state government and explained that efforts of the Seyi Makinde led administration in making Agricultural sector a revenue spinning sector for the state include human capital development, capacity building of employable youths and providing access to financial supports.
Akande acknowledged one of the key factors affecting the Agricultural sector in the state to be the security situation which Governor Makinde in collaboration with other security agencies have already worked out a plan to nip in the bud such that farmers can henceforth go to their farms and engage in agribusiness without fear.
“The state government is doing alot in fact, agribusiness is one of the core areas of Oyo state government’s priority. You know the present administration is running on four pillars which include health, security, infrastructures, and exonaded economy which is built on agribusiness.
“What that means is that Agribusiness is seen as a priority and if you noticed there has been increased budgetary allocation for Agricultural development the dimension of channelling the resources is towards more of what we call industrial agriculture, so the government is doing quite a lot in this sector of the economy.
Speaking with newsmen at the event, wife of the Deputy Governor of Oyo state, Professor Amudalat Bolanle Olaniyan, commended the state government investment in the agricultural sector. She however noted that there is more that need to be done to achieve the goal of food security and economic boost.
Speaking on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mrs. Oguntuyi, Abimbola Omolara Folashade who is the Head of South West regional office, said the federal government under President Muhammadu Buhari has done a lot in term of investment in the agricultural sector.
She said the FG has also done creditably well in the area of manpower development and financial support as well as creating access to agricultural development funds with a view to improving on the sector enable food security across Nigeria adding that the FG is also channeling financial supports including soft loans and grants to the real farmers through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Also Speaking, the President of Gold Farmers Association of Nigeria, Oyo State chapter, Mrs. Riyike Akinbami who is into animal and crops farming highlighted some of the benefits of the exhibition to include exposing the state to Agrotourism which according to her is a goldmine if well explored.
“This is a very good opportunity especially for the government of Oyo state to be able to host this event. You know we are talking about another aspect of agriculture entirely which is Agrotourism and ot exposes us and what we do, it gives us a platform to be able to showcase our works and products, it enables us to relate and interact with other farmers from other parts of the world.
“It essentially affords the Oyo state great opportunity to bring in local and foreign investors because of course, we are talking of tourism so, once the investors know there is stability in the state in term of consistency of policies and programs investors will come and open businesses here, that’s exactly what we are trying to achieve.
One of the participants who is into crops farming and member of Oyo state farmers association, Mr Adetunji Bakare, said Governor Seyi Makinde is trying to push agriculture as one of the mainstays of Oyo economy but noted that fear of being attacked by herdsmen has affected farmers and agricultural produce in the state.
Adetunji however, commended Makinde for making agriculture one of his administration’s top priority adding that the role of middlemen in the agricultural value chain between farmers and retailers in the markets unnecessarily increases the price of food commodities stressing that if government can reduce the impact of the middlemen from the value chain, cost of food commodities in the market will naturally go down.
The Special Assistant on Community Relations to Oyo state Governor, Honourable Olufemi Josiah in his remark noted that the mission to provide food security is top priority of the present administration as evident in the investment and priority given to the sector.
Josiah added that everything in the state begins from the community level stressing that whatever happens in the larger society is a reflection of the community based system which he said the Seyi Makinde-led Government is tackling headlong by transforming farm settlements into farm estates in other to especially create an attraction for unemployed youths across the state.
Highlight of the event was the tour of different exhibitors’ stands where different agricultural produce were attractively displayed as Dr Debo Akande, the Executive Assistant on Administration and Special Assistant on Tourism, Reverend Idowu Ogedengbe and Hon. Akeem Ademola Ige alongside investors from different countries present at the international expo took turn to make purchases.