Through agriculture, Oyo State is targeting between N500 million and N600 million internally generated revenue through agriculture this year.
The state commissioner for agriculture, natural resources and rural development, Oyewole Oyewumi, disclosed that the ministry generated N108m internally in 2017.
“In the last couple of years, it hasn’t been too encouraging but I know that this year, we are going to achieve at least 500 per cent increase in our internally generated fund from the Ministry of Agriculture alone and some of that will be put into the efforts we are trying to make in order to grow agriculture in the state, he submitted.
Oyewumi, who spoke in a recent interview with Sunday Punch, also revealed that the state is constructing close to 50km access road in rural communities across the state.
Speaking on the feedback from people of Oyo State on the state government’s zero tolerance to idle land policy, Oyewumi explained that “it is still an ongoing campaign, adding that “I can say that we have been on it now for about four to six months. The response has been marvellous in the last four to six months. The initial antagonism that we used to encounter from landowners and communities towards investors, who want to go into farming, is beginning to reduce.
“As we have actually experienced, we are receiving so many community leaders, village heads, and family heads in this ministry on a constant basis, offering their lands to whoever is interested, probably under partnership or lease. So, I would say it has been very successful and we are truly hopeful that in the next couple of years, Oyo State agriculture would have been transformed as a result of some of this policy and activities.
“The agricultural zone development policy has increased arable land under cultivation with additional 150,000 hectares in preparation for cultivation, and I expect that the growth rate will be in that region over the next couple of years,” he added.
He also disclosed that “Governor Abiola Ajimobi has graciously approved that an average of 20km of rural roads be resurfaced and cleared in every local government. The roads are actually not tarred but rehabilitated. This is actually in anticipation of another project by the World Bank, a N2.5bn project that has finally been approved. We expect contractors to mobilise to the site in the next one or two months because the final decision has been taken to roll out and that will come to an average of 50km of rural roads in every local government across the 33 local governments in the state.
“It is a World Bank, Federal Government and Oyo State Government joint project and it is being structured in such a way that any of the farm settlements that falls within a particular council is given priority over any other roads in the council. So, we expect to see more changes over time, especially during the dry season.”
Speaking on government’s position on giving land to Fulani herdsmen, he noted that “I think it is fairly straightforward. Land or cattle development or cattle production, as I would prefer to call it, instead of herding, is seen essentially as a commercial activity like any other agricultural activity that requires investment and management with profit as the motive. The risk element is also there like any other business. Therefore, what any other farmer, who grows anything in Oyo State needs to do in order to produce his fruits or crops, is what I expect the cattle farmers to do.
“In the areas of land, there are two ways of approaching it like we have been canvassing lately. You may have noticed that we have also embarked on some form of sensitisation and advocacy programme on the use of lands in Oyo State because we regard land as one of our assets and the idea is that we should deploy our lands for good agricultural purposes in order to turn it into money-spinning ventures.
“Just as it applies to the yam producers, it also applies to the herdsmen. He is free to go and negotiate for land like any other person, buy, lease, rent or whatever they agree with the owner of the land and build his ranch.
“On the other hand, Oyo State is currently developing what we call the agricultural zone programme where some portion of our depleted forest reserves are being used for agricultural production while the forests are being developed somewhere else. We have about nine forest reserves here. Some of them that have been depleted either through legal or illegal logging overtime and run the risk of erosion are being rehabilitated and being put out for agricultural purposes, he stressed.