NIMET: Aregbesola Revolutionalize Green And Blue Economy In Osun By Inwalomhe Donald

A report released by NIMET in January 2017 identified Osun along with several other states in the country as having the potential for flash floods. Upon receipt of those reports, our government swung into action and began taking proactive steps towards preventing flood in the state. We began the clearing the water canals and dredging the waters ways in a bid to prevent flooding. The ministry of the environment also up-took an aggressive public sensitization on the dangers of dumping refuse along water channels. The ministry of works also began opening up new water channels across the state. We were optimistic that Osun would not experience flooding. As we approach the beginning of the dry season, it appears that our proactivity has paid off hugely as Osun did not record any case of flood. We are however not resting as this morning, I was in Gbonmi and Obate Area, Oke Baale, Osogbo, to inspect ongoing drainage works
Africa’s “Blue world” is made of vast lakes and rivers and an extensive ocean resource base. The Blue and Green Economy can play a major role in Osun’s structural transformation, sustainable economic progress, and social development. The largest sectors of the current African aquatic and ocean-based economy are fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, transport, ports, coastal mining, and energy.
 
Governor Aregbesola introduced Osun blue fund as a step by step guide to help the Osun States to better mainstream Blue Economy into their national development plans, strategies, policies, and laws. Osun Blue Economy approach is premised in the sustainable use, management and conservation of aquatic and marine ecosystems and associated resources.
 
Governor Aregbesola has expressed its commitment to embracing and developing the Blue Economy concept as a vital part of Africa’s future development as outlined in the AU’s Agenda 2063. This pledge followed an intervention where he called on Nigerians to use its Agenda 2063 to “break the mould” of African development and recognise the potential of Nigeria’s Blue Economy:
“The Blue Economy, encapsulating all of the potentials of our oceanic resources, offers us a platform for Africa’s transformation both in terms of Agenda 2063 and in terms of the post-2015 Development Agenda and the sustainable development goals. Governor, State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has said no effort would be spared in rolling back malaria scourge in the state, and used Osun blue fund for dredging of drainages, streams and expansion of river channels were part of the measures deployed by his administration to enhance a healthy environment.
 
For the past six years, the Aregbesola administration has created Osun blue fund to avoid flooding in Osun as rivers and streams such as the Okookoo and Ogbagba streams in Osogbo has never been left untouched on a yearly basis. Streams and rivers in other towns such as Ikire, Ikirun, Iwo, Ile-Ife, Ode-Omu, Ilesa and other towns in the state are also not left out in the scheme of things. There is virtually no stream or river in the state which the dredging machine of Aregbesola has not touched in the bid to ensure that the state does not have to start spending billions of naira into the provision of makeshift shelters, buying of relief materials and the ugly situation of having to coping with a food crisis. For a state that is prone to flooding because of the many rivers and streams that it has, it will not be out of place for the state government to always put the issue of dredging the waterways on the front burner, just as the Aregbesola administration is doing and it is gratifying to know that the efforts of the state government is paying off. Running into about 75 kilometers, the waterways which the Aregbesola dredging machines work on annually include; Esimirin, Agbara, Opa, Gbalefefe, Ogboku, Osun streams in Ile-Ife and Modakeke-Ife axis. We also have the Opopo, Ogbun, Amino, Akeri in Ila-Orangun. In Ilesa axis there is the Omiru, Olutokun and the Adeti streams. The Mogimogi and Aiba rivers in Apomu and Iwo respectively are also not left out. A number of stream and rivers of not less than 30 kilometers in towns like Ipetu-Ijesa, Ejigbo, Yakooyo, Ipetumodu, Asipa, Ikirun, Iragbiji, Ede and Igbajo are also being dredged on an annual basis to avoid flooding. At the beginning of every year, meteorologists have always done their job of predicting and at the same time warning the people and government of the amount of rainfall that will be witnessed in any particular area. But it is so unfortunate that most state governors in the country always resort to the fire brigade approach of doing things. The floods would have already wrecked its harvock and ravaged homes and farmlands before the government begin to act. Many stateS governments in the country believe in spending huge amount of money on relief materials instead of spending lesser amount of money preventing flood. The United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks reported that farmers lose a lot during floods, and it is common knowledge that inadequacy of food is a crisis on its own. Nigeria as country is going through the most difficult time in history as a result of fall in the prices of crude oil in the global market. The country and all state governors are trying to look inwards for a way out, the only viable way out is to diversify into agriculture. Going by that, Aregbesola’s administration needs to be commended given a huge path on the back for spending billions of naira into dredging of water ways to avoiding flooding whose devastating effect among others is the sacking of farmers from their farmlands and destroying valuable crops in its wake. When flooding occurs, farmlands are washed away, fish ponds are swept off and people count their losses in millions of naira. The effect of this is shortage of food which leads to hunger and insecurity. 
 
Osun State Government began the dredging of waterways in major towns in the state in order to ensure that there is no loss of lives or properties as the rains increase. The state government started the dredging and clearing waterways even before the flood alert was given while appealing to residents to desist from indiscriminate dumping of refuse.
To help farm settlers with food production in green revolution, Osun has stepped up the improvement of infrastructure in the nine farm settlements across the state.  The exercise has also triggered in increase in the number of applicants for land in the settlements. The three residential farm settlements in Ago-Owu, Esa-Oke and Oyere were established in the 1960s by the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, but they have been neglected by successive administrations until recently.
 
Rauf Aregbesola administration had on assumption of office, through the Osun Rural Enterprise and Agriculture Programme (O-REAP), embarked on programmes directed at revitalising the settlements. According to the project leader, Mr. Gboyega Osobu, O-REAP identified land as a key resource and as a result instituted a mechanism, termed the Osun Farm Settlements Land Validation Project, to collate detailed situation report on the existing agricultural lands on government farm settlements. He said the action became necessary for effective management of the land holdings, farmers’ information and to increase the amount of land available for both small and large-scale farmers.
 
Osobu further stated that the validation project;  the  first in the history of farm settlements in the Southwest, was carried out in two phases with the active involvement of the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (O-YES) cadets and staff of Agric Services Department of the State Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security.
 
He said the project adopted the use of the Geographic Information Technology (GIS) to map the boundaries of individual farm holdings and of the farm settlements, after carrying out a perimeter survey of all the farm settlements.
 
After the validation exercise, Osobu noted, records showed that there are over 7,000 farmers spread across the nine settlements occupying two to 10 hectares of land.  Over 4,211 hectares of land was also discovered, bringing the total to approximately 20,200 hectares.
 
An Agric land allocation committee constituted by the Governor has since allocated up to 6000 hectares of land to 250 small-holder farmers. The data generated was utilised in developing an Agriculture Land Planning Information System (ALPIS), conceived to assist in the overall management activities and to make the information relating to the farm settlements available at the touch of a button.
 
In terms of physical upgrade of infrastructure; over 100 kilometres of roads have been constructed in and around the farm settlements to allow movement of farm produce out of the settlements. Over 30 bridges, 100 culverts, a number of electrification projects, provision of bore holes, construction of over 120 cribs for storage and the construction of model medical centres have been facilitated by the Aregbesola-led government.
 
According to the General Manager, Osun State Agricultural Development Corporation (OSADEC), John Olanipekun, the state government provided free mechanisation services for clearing and preparation of farmland of over 7,000 hectares owned by farmers to boost massive food production.
 
Olanipekun said: “Since the inception of the present administration, there had been a radical transformation in terms of agricultural activities in the state. It realised the need to diversify the economy of the state. This is also seen in the attention given to farm settlements in the State.” OSSADEC has also cleared 754 hectares of land for various groups of farmers outside the farm settlements at subsidised rate, thus making farming easy for farmers.
 
The government has also assisted farmers in the settlements and in other parts of the state to access credit facilities. Olanipekun revealed that since the Aregbesola-led administration came into office, no fewer than 3,645 farmers have benefitted from loan facilities of N429, 740,000, while it commenced the disbursement of N500 million to about 5,500 farmers across the state last year.
 
Olanipekun said: “The loan to farmers is interest-free. The government paid the interest on behalf of the farmers to the Bank of Agriculture (BOA), which is collaborating with the state on the implementation of the loan scheme. The government made it zero-percent interest to make it accessible to farmers, so as to boost their morale. This loan covered virtually all aspects of agriculture, ranging from crops, livestock, fishery, piggery and agricultural marketing such as agrochemical and insecticides.
 
“Aside from the loans, there are other forms of loan facilitated by the State government to farmers. For instance, the State under O-REAP, gave agrochemicals, seeds and seedlings to identified farmer groups and individuals.
 
“The state has also assisted farmers in adding value to their products through the provision of storage facilities. It constructed over 120 cribs for storage, which is subsidised by the government.”
 
Olanipekun explained that  OSSADEC has 10 sets of cassava processing equipment, 10 set of cassava chipping machines, three sets of yam flour (elubo) processing equipment, four sets of multi-grain threshing equipment, 20 rice harvesting equipment to sell to farmers, group of farmers and farmer co-operatives at 40% subsidy.
 
“Besides, the government recently signed a MoU with International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) for the establishment of a demonstration farm at Ago Owu Farm Settlement for best farming practices.
 
Aregbesola is managing Osun State green and blue natural resources to generate economic, social, and environmental benefits. Local communities across the Osun State are granted the right to use and capitalize on the benefits of using wildlife and other natural resources within the boundaries of “communal conservancies.” With an economic incentive to sustainably manage these areas, food and employment is being provided for hundreds of thousands of Osun people in rural areas.
 
Osun commences all-year-round farming through Solar-powered irrigation. As part of efforts to diversify her economy through agriculture and turn the state to the food basket of the West, the Osun State Government has embarked on all-year-round farming through a massive irrigation system.
 
The initiative is aimed at fulfilling one of the six-point integral action plans of Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s administration which is to banish hunger through massive agricultural production. The new farming system, an initiative of the volunteers of the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES), was said to have encompassed solar-powered irrigation to encourage all-round farming across the seasons.
 
While inspecting one of the 40 acres of the already cultivated farmland at Ilesa, during the first harvest of the hybrid cucumber cultivated by the OYES cadets, the Governor of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola said the decision was to make the state to be self-sustaining and self-sufficient in food production and as well make Osun the food basket of Western Nigeria.
 
He said the initiative was aimed at fighting the scourge of irregular farming by encouraging modern agriculture practices through the irrigation system. According to Go‎vernor Aregbesola, agriculture is where the future lies, thus it is high time for all to engage in massive agriculture production as a panacea to hunger. Governor Aregbesola who expressed delight over the seriousness being put in place by the OYES cadets said the state has turned a new leaf in agriculture practices. He added, “I am very impressed with this high level of seriousness being put in place by our OYES volunteers. It shows that our state is not only committed to infrastructure, but also human development.
 
“With this giant stride in agriculture, it is not a doubt that Osun can boast of all-around cultivation of major commodities like sweet potatoes, cucumbers, and exotic vegetables.
“As we have this farm in Ilesa, we also have similar ones in 24 Local governments across the state. This is aimed at fulfilling our commitment at banishing hunger, poverty and unemployment, as the scheme wouldn’t only encourage irrigation farming system but also build confidence in the youths towards agriculture.
 
“As we all know, food and shelter are too essential for the survival of humanity and no serious government will trivialize the need to encourage agriculture, particularly at a time when the value of crude oil is progressively sliding into zero.
 
“It has been brought into public knowledge that in the next 20 years, it will be practically impossible to import food, not because there won’t be money to do so, but there won’t be food to import.
 
“So, to prevent this unforeseen circumstantial uncertainty, then it is time to go into massive food production capable of making us self-sufficient and as well encouraging surplus for export. “We must do whatever we can to sustain ourselves in food production because a time is coming when a nation like Nigeria will be left with no other option than agriculture.
 
“Our major economic product, crude oil, will soon become unpopular as it is evident that in the next 25 years, there will no longer be a serious automobile company that will be producing petroleum-powered vehicles.
 
“The major buyers of Nigeria’s crude oil have declared that by 2030, petroleum-powered automobiles will no longer be produced and what this implies is that, petroleum will become an ordinary commodity, and not a money-making commodity as we have it now. “If this is the case, then we must all go back to farm and see the need to feed ourselves as a nation and produce agriculture produce in surplus for export”, Aregbesola stressed.
While lauding the commitment of the OYES cadets at complementing his administration’s efforts to ‎revamp agriculture, Governor Aregbesola said it is time for the youths to demonstrate the passion for farming, instead of chasing non-existent white collar jobs.
 
Inwalomhe Donald writes from Benin City This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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