How to demystify the economy through agriculture- Aregbesola
Published On 6 Aug, 2016 At 03:10 PM | With 0 Comments


Speaking points of Osun State Governor Rauf Aregbesola 12th editors conference in Port-Harcourt

Agriculture is needed primarily for food production. Only well fed people can drive economic development. Good nutrition is the primary basis of good health. Good nutrition therefore drives productivity in two ways; first through good health and secondly the unbounded energy and confidence that come from it. We put in place in Osun a deliberate policy of food production in contrast with cash crop production.
Agriculture provides raw materials for economic production in the food and beverage industry; agrochemical industry; building and construction industry; pharmaceutical industry; textile, clothing, leather and footwear industry; paper products and printing industry; and rubber products. From history, we have seen that agriculture revolution preceded Industrial Revolution in Britain, United States and Japan.
The orientation of our agriculture towards producing raw materials, especially cash crops, for the industries in Europe and the America must be reversed from producing what we don’t use to producing what we use.
The outflow from this is that we should stop exporting primary products and start adding value. The value of a kilogramme of exported cocoa beans increases 5,000 per cent by the time it comes back as chocolate. We have revived the cocoa processing industry in Osun with an eye of producing globally competitive chocolates and other cocoa products.
We should bring innovation to agriculture for farm produce to be converted into secondary products. For instance, our foods have remained the same from time immemorial. It is the same type of foods we derive from our crops in the past that we still do now. Nutritionists, food scientists and food technologists should find better uses for our crops. For instance, coconut in some parts of the world has become big business, with candies, cosmetics, medicine and animal feeds providing an industry that is geometrically bigger than the old practice of just cracking the hard shell and eating the nut. When we find other uses for food crops, this stimulates demand for them.
Our agriculture products are non-competitive because of extremely low productivity. While Nigeria and much of Africa are leading producers of cassava for instance, the traditional yield per hectare has been around 15 tonnes (Nigeria) and 10 tonnes (Africa) while global average in 2010 was put at 12.5 tonnes. However, India’s average yield in 2010 was 34.8 tonnes per hectares and Thailand’s yield is reported to be a whopping 120 tonnes per hectare.
Integrating agriculture into government programmes. Our empowerment and education programmes are integrated with agriculture. We also pioneered in a sense, the home grown school feeding programme (OMEALS), in which sumptuous meals are provided for 252,000 elementary school pupils on every school day. We say ‘in a sense’ because the programme had existed in an attenuated form prior to our coming, but our administration gave it a new identity and prominence. Because of its success in Osun, it has now been nationally adopted by the Federal Government. Very recently, our state organised a national induction for other states understudying the programme, preparatory to implementing it in their own states. I have also been invited twice to the British Parliament to share our experience with the world.

The interesting aspect of this programme, as it relates with innovation, is that it is integrated with our agriculture policy and local empowerment. Under it, 3000 community-based caterers were employed, trained and assisted financially to set up. Also, to be able to feed these pupils, 15,000 whole chickens, 254,000 eggs, 35 heads of cattle and 40 tonnes of catfish are purchased weekly from farmers and food vendors. This has kept the farmers in profitable business and even attracted other youths to farming. In keeping with the original objective of making the programme home grown, the O’MEALS has an input supply chain that is linked to our various agricultural development projects. Consequently, our Osun Fisheries Out-growers Production Scheme (OFOPS) provide the catfish used for the school feeding programme while Osun Broilers Out-growers Programme (OBOPS) provide part of the chickens

Bringing innovation into agriculture with the input of scientific farming practices, cutting edge technology, diffusing ideas and getting new ideas from research to farmers.

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