Progressive leaders, worldwide, use the state’s comparative advantage to grow their economy.
It is, therefore, little wonder that when governor Seyi Makinde took over the mantle of leadership in Oyo State, he identified Oyo State’s competitive advantage and made agribusiness one of the focal points on which one of the four pillars of his Roadmap to Accelerated Development 2019-2023 was grounded.
As early as August 2019, when the first Oyo State internal stakeholders meeting was held, the concept of a midwifing agency for agribusiness was birthed. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the bill creating the Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency (OYSADA) was signed into law in April 2020, while the agency became operational in October of the same year.
Vidverto PlayerFully backed by His Excellency, OYSADA has embraced its mandate to turn Oyo State into an investment haven for agribusiness by attracting private investors, international development organizations and diplomatic community to partner with Oyo State. There was a need for proper agriculture financing, especially with dilapidated rural infrastructures. For this reason, the agency engaged in massive resource mobilization.
Between 2019-2022, OYSADA drove blended international agribusiness funding of over $120 million to Oyo State. This fund is being used to implement the growth of diverse areas of the agricultural sector in Oyo State including the development of agribusiness industrial hubs. The most recent being the Special Agro-Processing Zone (SAPZ) supported by the African Development Bank.
The funds are also being used for supporting the skill and enterprise development of new actors in agribusiness, primarily women and youth. Examples are the ATVET project of the French Development Bank and European Union, World Bank supported LPRES project for livestock enterprise development and the ongoing Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (N-CARES) support for smallholder farmers across all the local government areas (LGAs) in the state.
Within the last two years, OYSADA has reviewed proposals from over 100 new companies in Oyo State, and some of these have gone through leading to the establishment of their business in the state. For example, Brent Farm has established an integrated farm of over 3,000 hectares in Ijio, Iwajowa LGA expanding with diverse processing centers across the state. Rontol Ltd has established a cassava processing center in Ilora, Afijio LGA. These companies have contributed in part to an over N26.6 billion worth of investments across the value chain of agriculture in Oyo State within three years.
Additionally, at a time when investors are pulling out of some states because of an unwelcome business environment, agribusinesses in Oyo State are expanding. This has been the case with companies like Psaltry International at Ado-Awaye who recently expanded operations to include the first Cassava-Based Sorbitol Factory in Africa at Ado-Awaye, Iseyin LGA. We also have the Oyo Sugarcane Processors Ltd, Iseyin LGA, the first brown sugar processing center in Nigeria, Brent Farms ethanol processing center, and Niji Agro-Solutions who are moving their operations from Lagos to Ibadan. They are investing in equipment training and fabrication.
As can be seen, Oyo State has been focused on two of the key missing links in the agricultural sector on the African continent. These are value addition through processing stimulated crop production growth and creation of employment in the agricultural value chain. With this shift in focus, OYSADA has created a great market for crop production across the state for farmers.
No wonder the current data from the National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS), showed that crop production in Oyo State has increased exponentially within the past three years. Land cultivation for the top four crops planted in Oyo State namely cassava, maize, soybean and yam showed an increase of over 40 thousand hectares of land in just one year.
In the area of public-private-development-partnership, OYSADA has ensured that financial and technical support from development partners is channeled to Oyo State.
This includes diverse projects focused on the development and growth of agriculture and agribusiness in the state. In the past two years, we have had interventions including the French Government supported and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) managed Support to Women Entrepreneurship in the Agri-food sector in Nigeria (SEFAN/SWEAN) project for development of over 150 women in agribusiness; the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD)-AgriHub project and the African Development Bank (AfDB) Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) programme that has supported the training and enterprise development of over 1,500 youths.
Others are the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) supported and IITA technically managed project on Cassava Seed Enterprise Development; the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) on livestock value chain development and the Innovation Lab for Policy Leadership in Agriculture and Food Security (PiLAF) on mechanization and agricultural equipment fabrications in Oyo State. We also have the Global Alliance for Nutrition (GAIN) projects on agriculture for health and nutrition.
Another area where OYSADA has excelled is in the rehabilitation of once moribund agricultural facilities in the state. Prior to the advent of the current government, several agricultural facilities and infrastructure were moribund. For example, the former Oyo State Agricultural Development Programme (OYSADEP) facility at Saki which was abandoned for over 20 years, now houses the headquarters of OYSADA. Also, the Governor’s Quarters in Oke-Ogun has been rehabilitated.
Additionally, the historical Fasola Farm Settlement at Fasola in Oyo West LGA is undergoing development to become the Fasola Agribusiness Industrial Hub. This will be the first Agribusiness Industrial Hub in Oyo State.
The project which is over 80% complete is already hosting15 private-sector investors including the Friesland Campina calf breeding and livestock pasture development hub.
Mention must be made of the Rural Community Development Centre (RCDC) built under the Directorate of Food, Road and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI) at Awe. The once moribund RCDC has been rehabilitated and is now the Oyo State-IITA Youth Agribusiness Incubation Park Centre, Awe with several youth enterprises. The moribund OYSADEP Fabrication Centre at Apata is being converted into a state-of-the-art agricultural equipment training and fabrication center. Also, six secondary school facilities have been developed under the Start Them Early Program (STEP) for early entry and skills development of younger pupil in agribusiness management. The value of all these revitalized moribund and wasted resource is over 25 billion naira.
To further fulfill its mandate, OYSADA has, for the first time in the history of agriculture in Oyo state, ensured that farmers’ data are captured and digitised. Presently, the agency has biometric capture of over 15,000 farmers. This has proved to be an important resource in policy and decision making on agriculture in Oyo State. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, this data was used in the distribution of seeds and other inputs top real farmers in Oyo State.
Also, this data has been used to facilitate Result Area 2 under the OYS-CARES project. These farmers’ lands are being captured by GPS. In addition, through the support of the University of Delaware, United States and the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T), the agricultural soil mapping of Oyo State is ongoing. Soil mapping supports precision in agriculture and input requirement for yield and crop production.
With the above milestones, the agency has set the scene for an enviable immediate future for the Oyo State citizen. The agency is being positioned to create a paradigm shift on the economy of Oyo State to continue leading the state from poverty to prosperity and ensure a sustainable future for the unborn generation.
Dr Akande is the Executive Adviser on Agribusiness to Oyo State Governor