The new agriculture initiative of the Governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, aimed at rejuvenating the economy of the state has received a major boost following the pledge of initial investment of $30m by an agriculture entrepreneur.
The Managing Director of Numerix Development Limited, Mr. Babs Aina, made the pledge at the second consultative assembly organised by the state at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan. Aina, who promised that the figure would progressively increase to $100m in the next few years, said the investment would target maize and soya beans in the interim.
Other investors that pledged commitment to the initiative were the Managing Director of Winchester Farms Limited, Ibadan, who is also the Managing Director of Costain West Africa PLC, Mr. Ayodeji Karim; and the Chief Executive Officer of Psaltry International Limited, Mrs. Yetunde Iranloye.
Top officials of agriculture research institutes, finance institutions, agro-allied business investors, and other stakeholders had converged on IITA to brainstorm on the revival of the agriculture potential of the state as alternative source of revenue.
At the forum were the Director-General of IITA, Dr. Nteranya Sanginga; Director, Institute of Agricultural Research and Training, Prof. James Adediran, top officials of research institutes and the Head, Development Finance office of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Ibadan, Mr. Bamiji Akinola.
Also in attendance at the event tagged “AgricOyo” were top officials of the Cocoa Research Institute, National Horticultural Research Institute, Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria, federal ministry of agriculture, among others.
Speaking at the event, the governor stressed that the target of the state was to harness the agriculture potential of the state with the ultimate ambition of becoming the food basket of the South-West, Nigeria in the short run and West Africa in the long run.
With an expanse of land spanning 28,454 square kilometer, the governor said that the state had the largest arable land in the Southern part of the country and human resources, which gave it comparative advantage over many other states.
“We are very lucky in Oyo State. Out of our 33 local governments, 28 are agrarian. So, what Lagos State has in water, Oyo State has in land. We need to harness these through the agriculture value chain to revive our economy.” Said the governor.
The Director of IAR and T lauded the initiative of the governor, which he said was the first time top agric researchers and other stakeholders would be assembled to offer suggestions and their expertise on any agriculture development in the state.