By Kolawole Olayinka, Abeokuta
The Ogun State Government has been nominated to benefit from three Federal Government’s agricultural pilot programmes aimed at further positioning the state as the food basket of the country.
The Executive Secretary, National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA), Paul Ikonne, made this known when he led the management of the Authority to the office of the state governor, Dapo Abiodun, at Oke Mosan, Abeokuta, on Wednesday.
He noted that the state would benefit from the Integrated Farm Estate, Garri Packaging Plant, a training programme on soil testing and extension services for 200 young graduates with science and agriculture-related degrees.
The Executive Secretary added that the Integrated Farm Estate would be sited in the three senatorial districts of the state, stressing that the estate would involve everything from production to processing, packaging and marketing.
Ikonne explained that the Garri Processing Plant would give farmers the opportunity of farming with the belief that their efforts will not go to waste.
“We are running programmes and projects which Ogun State has been slated to be one of the pilot states. NALDA’s Integrated Farm Estate is going to be cited in Ogun State in the three senatorial districts of the state.
“The Integrated Farm Estate is a concept that takes in everything from production to processing, packaging and marketing, we also have residential areas for farmers inside the integrated Farm Estate.
“Knowing that Ogun has the highest capacity in cassava production, our Garri Packaging Plant will be located in the state, thereby NALDA will be the off-taker from the farmers, we process it, package it accordingly and move it into the market.
“We are training young Nigerians based on the President’s directives on soil testing and extension services, so Ogun State is expected to nominate 200 people in the first phase.
“Again, Ogun is one of the states in the pilot stage of this programme, it will nominate young graduates that have agric or science-related degrees that will undertake this intensive two-week training.
“They will be empowered by NALDA with soil test kits and implements to collect soil samples after the training and they will begin to generate money for themselves, thereby making a living from the programme,” he said.
He disclosed that NALDA would not sit back and watch the state improve the worth of agriculture alone.
“The Authority would also be re-activating the 700 hectares of land at Joga-Orile immediately, with the hope that the reactivation will increase the status of the state in food production,” he added.
Responding, Governor Abiodun attributed the success of his administration’s agriculture project to the support of the President Muhammad Buhari-led government, adding that his administration holds agriculture as a “triple barrel pillar” that allows the state to feed its people, create employment, as well as generate revenue for the state.
Abiodun also noted that his administration recently started the construction of its International Cargo Airport to boost the agric sector, said that the state also won a bid to become a special agric processing zone, with the state using the advantage of the cargo airport that seats on a 5,000 hectares of land to its advantage.
He assured NALDA of the administration’s support, especially with provision of land for the purpose of the Integrated Farm Estate.
The governor submitted that his administration would also set up a team to look at ways of starting the Garri Packaging Plant in quick time and ensure that the youths and graduates benefit from the training programme on soil testing and extension services.