Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State has called on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in the agriculture sector to stem the tide of hunger and poverty ravaging the country.
This is just as the Federal Government announced that 94,982 Ekiti farmers were currently receiving support from it, saying this was as it was captured in the 2016 budget.
The Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, represented by the Federal Director of Agriculture, Ekiti State, Mr Oladipo Kolade, noted that Ekiti was naturally endowed and could adequately cater for its citizenry if adequately harnessed.
These were disclosed at the opening of Ekiti State Agriculture Summit 2016 with the theme “Rebirth of Sustainable Agriculture: Exploring New Investment Frontiers in Wealth Creation,” on Tuesday.
Governor Fayose said there was so much hunger ravaging the country, saying that the development demanded a swift and drastic response from the nation’s leadership.
He said: “The Federal Government must declare a state of emergency in the agriculture sector and also provide a bailout for the sector as people want to see food on their tables. It is then that people will be able to use agriculture to turn around their lives. States are already under bailout as far as salary is concerned and there is little most states can do.’’
“FG must also do more in road and power sectors. Most farmers find it difficult to get their produce to the market. There must be more investments in irrigation across the country too. Storage facilities are important as well. I implore the FG to complete and make functional, the silos it is constructing in Ekiti State. We need assistance to also finish the yam storage facility we are putting on in Ilasa-Ekiti.
“On our part, we have created farm banks to allow people who don’t have land for farming have access to farmlands across the state. They only need to contact us and we will make land available anywhere in the 16 local governments of the state.”
In a keynote, the founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), called for reform in land ownership, saying this affected large scale agriculture.
Chief Babalola suggested that local governments in the state as well as families could establish farms, saying “local governments should encourage cooperative systems in each local government areas across each state of the federation.”
Earlier, the state Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Kehinde Odebunmi, said the summit was “intended to address critical issues in our agricultural landscape with a view to developing the requisite policy framework to take Ekiti to the next level for a healthy socio-economic reality of its citizenry.”
He lauded Governor Fayose for his visionary approach to issues, saying the summit would come up with recommendations and suggestions that would move the sector forward.
Participants at the four-day summit were drawn from both the private and public sectors.