By Kolawole Olayinka, Abeokuta
The Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun has flagged off the commencement of 2020 Wet Season Rice harvest in the State using supported Eredo Youth Farmers Association at Sowunmi Village, Mokoloki, Obafemi Owode Local Government as a focus under the FGN/OGSG (IFAD Assisted) Value-Chain Development Programme.
The governor who was represented by the Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr. Adeola Odedina, at the event said, his administration would continue to support youth farmers using technology-driven method to woo more youths into agriculture and its various value-chain opportunities.
“We are witnessing the benefits of the smart decision we made at the onset of Covid-19 pandemic.
“We said agricultural activities must continue, we were here when these youths started this venture in March this year and we are proud that we are harvesting and all other farmers around here are harvesting as well and as we are doing that, other people are planting.
“Agriculture in Ogun State is technology-driven and this is a youth group and is under youth-focused agriculture.
“We have seen the excitement of using mechanical harvester just as it was also planted mechanically. In Ogun state, rice is a serious business and this is one of the ways to encourage youths to do agriculture.
“Anybody doing youth-focused agriculture without mechanisation and ICT should forget it.
“Our Rice Anchor Borrowers’ Programme is also based on technology. This is extraordinary, this is in addition to the over 1, 200 farmers we are empowering under Anchor Borrower Programme “, he said.
The Governor reiterated that 10 Local government Areas in Ogun State can do wonder like what is being done in Obafemi Owode, he thanked the traditional rulers for assisting with their land, the youth and for giving up their time saying, government-provided money and linkage so that the State can reclaim its position in rice production.
According to him, “When we started, we have a sound agricultural agenda but when Covid-19 pandemic came in, we had to revise it so people can go and farm, it is as part of our strategy in the state to shame Covid-19 that is why we are supporting the young people who amidst the Covid-19, went ahead with farming”.
In his welcome address, the Project Coordinator, Value-Chain Development Programme (VCDP), Mr Samuel Adeogun, said the rice farm was aimed at motivating the youth into farming through input, mechanisation and off taking, expressing delight that the rice planted during Covid-19 lockdown was due for harvest.
In his goodwill message, Secretary to Obafemi Owode Local Government, Hon. Ahmed Olayeni eulogised the state government for the feat and also thanked the farmers for supporting the government to make the project a reality.
He called on more youths across the state to leverage on the rice value chain opportunity offered by the government for their sustenance and wealth creation.
Also speaking, House Member, representing Obafemi Owode State Constituency, Hon. Shoneye Damilola thanked the State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, the Ministry of Agriculture and other stakeholders for teaming up to establish a scheme that would keep the youth profitably engaged.
The Onimoko of Imokoloki, Oba Joseph Adeola Edun Ogunbona was optimistic that the rice farm after harvest and production would not only feed the populace but also the neighbouring states, appealing that such laudable project should spread to other regions in other commodities.
On his part, the President, Youth Farmers Association, Ogun State, Mr. Ajibola Johnson thanked the government for liberating the youth through mechanised farming and for linking them with off-takers that would buy the produce from them.
Other dignitaries at the event include the Senior Special Assistance to the Governor on Agriculture, Dr (Mrs ) Angel Adelaja-Kuye, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Dotun Sorunke, Project Manager, Ogun State Agricultural Development Programme, Deaconess Taiwo Ayansanwo, Oniro of Iro, Oba Nojedeen Eyiowuawi Adebari Aromaye among others.