In the pre and post-independence era, Western Nigeria was the most civilized and prosperous region, not necessarily because it was the most endowed with mineral resources but because of the vision and foresight of the leaders of the region then. Chief Obafemi Awolowo and his team were smart enough to capitalize on the comparative advantage of the Western Region by making agriculture the mainstay of the economy and maximizing the potential of cash crops like cocoa to develop the region. Cocoa was to the western Nigeria what oil is to Nigeria now. That was the golden era of economic development of the South-West before the introduction of the unitary-federal system of government we are currently running in Nigeria, which now makes most states to be dependent on federal allocation for survival.
“A good objective of leadership is to help those who are doing poorly to do well and to help those who are doing well to do even better” (Jim Rohn). In his bid to encourage, motivate and strengthen established and new farmers in Ekiti State, the Kayode Fayemi government has organized continuous trainings in technology-driven commercial farming. Several farmers have been sponsored for trainings in the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan. The trainings of trainers (ToT) for the registration and biodata capturing for financial inclusion of farmers in Ekiti State is ongoing and about 50,000 farmers have been registered. Anchor borrowers’ training for would-be beneficiaries along crops of comparative advantage to Ekiti State, is also ongoing. These are geared toward boosting rice, cassava, maize and other cash crops production in Ekiti State to service the agro-allied factories being built by renowned formidable companies.
One of the hindrances to large scale commercial / mechanized farming is unavailability of required land space but this is not a problem in Ekiti State. To ensure massive production of farm produce, the Fayemi-led administration has also acquired land in all the Local Government Areas of Ekiti State to be made available for the use of interested and serious-minded farmers.
The most prized natural resources of Ekiti State are the vast arable lands and teeming hardworking population. Fayemi came back in 2018 with the sole intention of maximizing the potential of these valued but grossly under-utilized natural resources to develop Ekiti State. Unlike what happened after his first term in office when the highly successful YCAD couldnt survive after him, Governor Fayemi started his second term by focusing on how to attract renowned and successful agro-allied companies to establish factories in Ekiti State.
Accessibility to market is very important to every business concern, especially greenfield businesses like those being built in Ekiti State. The absence of reliable and sustainable market for farm produce coupled with unfavourable government policies led to the demise of YCAD in Ekiti State. A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them (John C. Maxwell). To mitigate such occurrences, the Kayode Fayemi government is doing everything possible to have companies which survival depends on farm produce to establish factories in Ekiti State.
There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it. The Kayode Fayemi government is making Ekiti the destination of choice for smart investors through the implementation of its ease of doing business policy. In a quest to promote and sustain commercial rice farming in the state, three renowned companies are building rice mills in Ekiti. Dangote Farms is establishing paddy aggregations, hulling and parboiling units with 160 metric tonnes per hour capacity with farm land already acquired at Ipao-Irele Ekiti axis. The company applied for a Rice Out-Grower Scheme in Ekiti State, whereby two cropping seasons are expected per year. Stallion Rice has also identified potential rice plantation zones across the river belts and rice value chain communities particularly, Oke-Imesi, Ijero/Ikoro, Gbonyin Ekiti areas and a site along Erifun Poly road in Ado Ekiti has been approved for the processing plant. Jumlar Rice Limited has been allocated 3,000 hectares of land for rice production and 5.2 hectares of land for processing and storage facilities, also in Ipere and Ipao Ekiti areas.
In its quest to encourage, strengthen and empower the cassava growers, the state government also attracted investors to establish cassava mills in Ekiti State. Promise Point has already acquired 700 hectares of land around Iyemero-Ayede Ekiti axis for the cultivation of cassava, 38 hectares for company processing mills, 20 hectares of land for mini dam and 50 hectares of land for Trailer Park. It is projected/expected that the daily production of the mill is 400 tonnes. The company has out-growership arrangement for the cultivation of cassava Notable among them are Nigeria Cassava Growers Association and local farmers in the Iyemero Ekiti agricultural growth corridor. FMS Farms has also acquired 584 hectares of land in Iyemero-Ayede Ekiti axis. A pilot stage of out-growership with 100 farmers has commenced. The company has also established 25 greenhouses for production of various pepper, tomatoes and vegetable varieties.
Sequel to the aforementioned Rice and Cassava mills are Ikun Dairy Farm, several standard poultry farms, maize farms and other greenfield mechanized farms springing up across Ekiti State. Promasidor Nigeria Limited has effectively taken over Ikun Dairy Farm to enhance the maximization of its full potential and has since commenced production. The dairy farm will, in full capacity, produce 10,000 litres of milk per day. Ekiti State currently hosts one of the largest poultry farms in Nigeria, situated in Ijurin Ekiti with 100,000 birds. Poultry farms of similar magnitude and several agro-allied industries are in the making across the length and breadth of Ekiti State. Governor Fayemi is doing everything within his power, against all odds, to ensure that most of these factories, industries and farms blossom and stabilize before the end of his tenure in office.
This is necessary to ascertain that these legacy programmes and projects can survive on their own no matter who takes over from him. As tall as these dreams seem Fayemi believes they are achievable and he is daily walking the talk. These legacy projects are in addition to various ongoing road projects across the state, building and renovation of schools, rehabilitation and upgrading of hospitals, completion of all inherited and previously abandoned building projects, and several new life-changing projects and programmes. These are, no doubt, giant strides to enhance the sustainable development of Ekiti State. Ekiti State is on a journey of self-discovery to reduce its dependence on federal allocation through sustainable development.
As Governor Fayemi is unrelenting in his quest to transform the state through its comparative advantage, the importance of these legacy projects cannot be overemphasised as they are targeted at creating jobs for our teeming youths and boosting the internally generated Revenue of Ekiti State, to reduce our dependence on federal allocation.
Ajayi writes from Ikere-Ekiti.
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