Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency (OYSADA) is working assiduously towards turning around agribusiness in the state. In an interview with BAYO AGBOOLA, the director general of the agency who also doubles as Governor Seyi Makinde’s senior special assistant on Agribusiness, Dr Debo Akande, says efforts are on to expand the economy of the state through agriculture.
How can you assess the Governor Seyi Makinde-led administration?
Governor Makinde in the last few years in office has used the state’s comparative advantage in agriculture to grow the state economy. It is, therefore, little wonder that when Governor Seyi Makinde took over the mantle of leadership in the state, he identified Oyo’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 an 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. Fully 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 organisations and diplomatic community to partner with the state.
Where exactly did the governor intervened?
At the inception, there was a need for proper agriculture financing, especially with dilapidated rural infrastructures. For this reason, the agency engaged in massive resource mobilisation. Between 2019-2022, OYSADA drove international agribusiness funding of over $120m to the state.This fund is being used to implement the growth of diverse areas of the agricultural sector in the 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.
How has the intervention so far highlighted transformed the economy of the state?
Within the last two years, OYSADA has reviewed proposals from over 100 new companies in Oyo state. Some of these have gone through leading to the establishment of their businesses 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 centres across the state. Rontol Ltd has established a cassava processing centre in Ilora, Afijio LG. These companies have contributed in part to an over N26.6 billion worth of investments across the value chain of agriculture in the 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 Pastry International at Ado-Awaye which recently expanded its operations to include the first Cassava-Based Sorbitol factory in Africa at Ado-Awaye, Iseyin LGA. We also have the Oyo Sugarcane Processors Ltd in Iseyin LGA, the first brown sugar processing centre in Nigeria, Brent Farms, Ethanol processing centrer and Niji Agro-Solutions which 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.
Will you say OYSADA has been able to deliver on its mandate under Governor Seyi Makinde?
OYASADA has created a great market for crop production across the state for farmers of all sorts. 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 the 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 1,500 women in agribusiness; the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD)-AgriHub project and the African Development Bank (AfFDB) Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) programme that has supported the training and enterprise development of over 1,500 youths and enterprise development.
Is that all the interventions so far?
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 (PIiLAF) on mechanisation 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 this current government, several agricultural facilities and infrastructures were at the state of comatose. 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 have been rehabilitated.
Additionally, the historical Fashola Farms Settlement at Fashola in Oyo West Local Government Area 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 hosting US 15 private-sector investors including the the Friesland Campina calf breeding and livestock pasture development hub. Mention must be made about the training of Rural Community Development Centre (RCDC) facility built under the Directorate of Food, Road and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI) facility at Awe.
The once -moribund Rural Community Development Centre (RCDC), Awe 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 now being converted into a state-of-the-art agricultural equipment training and fabrication centre. Also, six secondary school facilities have been developed under the Start Them Early Program project (STEP) for early entry and skills development of younger pupil in agribusiness management. The value of all these revitalized moribund and wasted resource is worth over 25 billion naira.
What are the other achievements of OYSADA under your watch as the DG of the agency?
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 digitalised. 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 the state. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, this data was used in the distribution of seeds and other inputs top real farmers in the 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 the 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 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.