Edo State governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, on Friday, inaugurated 1000 hectares of cleared field in Sobe farm Settlement of Owan West Local Government Area in the state for maize production.
Speaking during the inauguration, the governor said the maize cultivation, which could directly empower 200 agripreneurs to become millionaires, was part of his administration’s Accelerated Agriculture initiative to create jobs in the state.
Explaining the execution plan for the initiative, he said that the phase would target job creation for 1, 000 agripreneurs through the cultivation of 5,000 hectares of maize farms across the LGAs in the state.
He said: “Today is the first step towards actualising the 200,000 jobs promised by my administration. If we invest in Agriculture, we can do more than 200,000 jobs in Edo and Nigeria as a whole. We had an agricbusiness workshop to brainstorm on the challenges in our agriculture sector and we discovered that land preparation was a major challenge in the state. This initiative is to make land preparation easy via mechanisation for our farmers”, he said.
He continued that the initiative was in partnership with Saro AgroSciences ltd, which would provide technical support for the programme.
Meanwhile, he added that mechanisation centres would be situated close to the proposed 5000–hectare maize field to enable the agricpreneurs manage the 5 hectares that would be allocated to each of them effectively.
In addition, the governor urged the farmers to follow the recommended cultural practice for maize production to ensure optimal yield.
For his part, the Group Managing Director of Saro AgroSciences, Mr Oluwole Adeyegbe said the scheme targets a minimum of 4 metric tonnes of maize yield per hectare, which would be bought directly from the agripreneurs (farmers).
He said the company was also collaborating the state government for the second phase of the initiative, which would feature the use of green houses, pig production and Cocoa Yield Enhancement Programme.
The agripreneurs, he however explained, who would be beneficiaries of the scheme, must be able to raise 10% of the capital and would be linked to the CBN ANCHOR borrower’s programme for easy access to loan.
Commending the governor for the initiative, the secretary of Sobe Farm Settlement Cooperative, Mr Anthony Aibor, appreciated the prospect of employment creation for people in the area.
He, however, appealed to the government to tackle infrastructure decay in the community and the scourge of Fulani Herdsmen.
Frowning at the scourge of Fulani Herdsmen, which is one of the challenges encountered by farmers in the area, Governor Obaseki revealed that the state government was concluding strategies to curb the menace.
He said a Response Mechanism Team (RMT) would be formed among the farmers in the community to allow for intelligence reports, which would help in monitoring the herdsmen’s activities.
“The success of the programme depends on how well the government tackles the menace of Fulani herdsmen as no farmer has recorded great success for the past five years due to the activities of the herdsmen,” he said.
Also at the flag-off were the chairman of the Edo Agriculture initiative, Chief Osaro Idah, the Permanent Secretary of the state’ Ministry of Agriculture, the Edo chairman of the All Farmers’ Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Chief Emmanuel Odigie and his members, and members of the Sobe Farm Settlement Cooperative.
Meanwhile, the Odibiado of Sobe, His Royal Highness, Anthony Ero, Aleburu 1 expressed confidence in the agricultural project, assuring the governor of his community’s support to the success of his administration.