Obaseki’s Landmark Achievements in Agricultural Sector
Governor Godwin Obaseki is leveraging on agriculture, as against relying solely on federal allocations to drive the fortunes of Edo State, and the result is showing for every Edo sons and daughters.
With 1.1 million hectares of cultivable land and a teeming young population, Edo State is undoubtedly one of the few states in the country with huge potential for agriculture. Also, the state has a landmass of about 19,187Km2 of which about 70 percent is cultivatable.
There is thus no doubt why the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration has taken keen interest in harnessing the vast agro potential of the state. Data showed that the agriculture accounts for about 40 per cent of the state’s revenue.
Contending with the vagaries of unstable oil prices in the global market as with other states, the Edo State government is latching onto agriculture to diversify the local economy, attain food sufficiency and drive its job creation plans.
This grand plan includes calculated and far-reaching reforms that will attract and protect investments to boost production of oil palm, cassava, maize, yam, rubber, cocoa, rice, vegetables, aquaculture and livestock. A striking feature of Obaseki’s plan for agriculture is the partnership he is facilitating among private investors, government agencies and other stakeholders in the agricultural value chain.
Chairman, PRESCO Plc., Felix Nwabuko, whose company is a major investor in agriculture in Edo State, believes that Edo provides a conducive investment for agriculture. He notes that in Nigeria, agriculture is still bedeviled by myriad of challenges, such as lack of access to finance, land acquisition, infrastructure, community clashes amongst others.
Speaking during the recent Alaghodaro Investment Summit, he said: “All of these have serious impact on agribusiness. Some of the issues that exist include climatic variations, which Edo State is thankfully not susceptible to.”
These stakeholders include but not limited to, the Tolaram Group and DUFIL Plc, as off-takers for produce, the Agricultural Development Project, as trainers and extension workers; the Edo Fertiliser Plant and Chemical Company Limited operated on Public-Private partnership by WACOT Limited for supply of inputs such as fertiliser; Benin-Owena River Basin Authority for irrigation; farmers’ groups, and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for guarantees to de-risk investment.
The arrangement is primed to run on a value-chain model that will ensure every stakeholder gets needed support to invest in the state and earn competitive returns on their investment.
Aside assuring a financially robust state, the agricultural tsunami sweeping across the state will provide employment to the ever-booming youthful Edo population. It would also drive up the state’s self-sufficiency in food production, even as the state already has robust base for producing cash crops, especially oil palm
Edo State with a total landmass of 19,187 square kilometres has ample arable land, diverse agro-ecological zones, good rainfall and rich soil. The state has a Gross Domestic Product of
$11.89 billion and $3,623 per capital income. Edo State is the second largest producer of palm oil and palm kernel. It accounts for 72 percent of the Nigerian total vegetable oil production. It also accounts for about 80 percent of the country’s rubber, timber and cocoa production.
Leveraging the euphoria of the huge potentials abound in the sector, the Obaseki-led administration has implemented well thought-out strategic and far-reaching reforms that attract and retain investments in oil palm, cassava, maize, yam, rubber, cocoa, rice, vegetables, aquaculture and livestock production.
The Edo State Agripenuer programme, which commenced in 2017, is part of the administration’s strategies to boost Micro, Small- Scale and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and sustain current youth-focused agricultural initiatives in the state.
Under the scheme, over 10,600 hectares of maize, cassava, rice, soyabean
and other crops are being cultivatedbin Agenebode, Warrake, Usugbenu, Iguorhiakhi and Sobe. Over 55,000 young beneficiaries while about 20,000 jobs were created under the initiative. In addition, the Edo Food and Agriculture Cluster (Edo-FAC) in Ehor, Uhunmwode Local Government Area, has benefited over 1,300 farmers. There is also a farm mechanisation programme for commercial agriculture in the state. The state with its partners and investors set up the Edo State Oil Palm Programme (ESOPP). To boost the oil palm production in the state, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) plans to invest a whooping sum of about N70 billion to support the project, and in the next two to three years, the state will be cultivating about 100,000 hectares of oil palm.
In an effort to increase the country’s sufficiency in rice production, the state government invested in rice cultivation and production. Farmers in Warake rice farms, Owan East Local Government Area in partnership with the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led government recorded bumper harvest in 2019 farming seasons.
The state government provided inputs and technical support for the farming season to boost food sufficiency in the state. The government’s multifaceted agricultural development scheme backed by the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), the CBN, the Elephant Group, and a number of other off-takers benefited not less than 2,000
farmers in different farm settlements in Ilushi, Iguoriakhi, Sobe, Warake, Iguomon, Agenebode, Usugbenu, Ekpoma, among others.
Flagging off the cultivation, the state governor said the government intended to harvest 17,000 metric ton of rice by cultivating 4,000 hectares of land at the end of the 2019 planting season. He noted that off-takers were on ground to buy off the produce, and assured farmers of buyers for their produce.
“We are delighted at the bumper harvest in Warake, which follows the impressive performance of the farm at Agenebode. This is a testament to the fact that we are doing the right thing as
regards rice farming in Edo State. We are looking at expanding the scope of what we have to accommodate more farmers in the state,” he said.
The state government investment in agriculture was further boosted with the investment of N28 million by Japanese government in conjunction with Lift Above Poverty Organisation (LAPO) in rice processing mill at Ugbeke-Ekperi in Etsako Central Local Government Area.
The N28,750,070 million ultra-modern rice mill has capacity to mill three tons of paddy rice per day.
The mill will produce “Royal Rice” brand of rice. Determined to ensure that the state depend less on crude oil revenue from the federation account, the state government further sealed a deal with NIRSAL for the expansion of the Edo Agripreneur Programme to cover other crops aside grains.
The programme operating under the CBN Anchor-Borrower Programme and covers only the cultivation of grains such as maize and rice targets 17,000 jobs and N2 billion revenue.
Speaking during harvest of maize at Sobe in Owan West Local Government Area, the governor said the signing of the amended deal with NIRSAL became imperative following the success of the 2019 Agripreneur Programme. He said the programme would
be expanded to accommodate poultry, piggery, as well as the cultivation of root and tuber crops.
Aliyu Abdulhameed, managing director of NIRSAL, said with the success of the programme in 2019, funders and other stakeholders in the value chain would be encouraged to provide more funding under the model.
He said the programme was aimed at supporting and improving the livelihood of 880 farmers on 4,400 hectares of land across the 18 local government areas of the state. The state government investment in agricultural sector also extended to rubber production with the management of Rubber Estate Nigeria Limited, investing about N5.1
billion in Urhonigbe Rubber Plantation. The planting, which will be in two phases, will cover 1,300 hectares in the first phase and 1,000 hectares in the second while a total of 350 jobs will be created.
The administration, also successfully revamped the 60,000 metric tons of Edo Fertilizer and Chemical Company located at Auchi through a Public Private Venture, 14 years after it was abandoned.
Iyamu O. Osamudiamen Impactvision
Igueben Local Government, Edo State.