By IME OLA
As part of efforts to transform the sector, the Federal Government has commissioned a one-stop-shop agro-inputs centre in Oyo state. Speaking at the commissioning in Iseyin, recently, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mrs Ibukun Odusote, said the task of making food available and affordable through the promotion of food security programmes has been the major focus of the government.
She explained that the Federal Government constructed the centre to bring agro inputs closer to farmers. “My ministry is very much mindful of the serious impediments of inaccessibility of good quality agricultural inputs such as fertilizer, agro-chemicals, seeds and seedlings, livestock feeds, veterinary drugs, tractor hiring, primary processing and extension services by farmers in a bid to maximizing aggregate production output for the nation. These impediments, as well as Federal Government’s intention to withdraw from direct procurement and distribution of all agricultural inputs, informed the decision to establish at least one agro-inputs centre in each of the local government areas in the federation by the year 2015,” she said.
According to her, the centres are established to strengthen the food security programme of the government, and is aimed at providing market information services, promote private sector investment in agriculture. She said each of the centres has facilities for about 500 tonnes storage capacity for fertilizers, seeds, agro-chemicals, as well as providing tractor hire services, primary processing and extension support services. While noting that three of these centres are established in Oyo state (Iseyin, Fashola and Ago Amodu), she added they will enhance the growth enhancement support programme of the federal government.
Also speaking, the Executive Secretary, West Agro-input Dealers Association (WAIDA) Paulington A. Ayeni thanked the federal government for taking steps to transform the sector. He said: “We thank the Minister who has remained resolute despite unwarranted criticisms, in his drive to make agriculture a business rather than just a way of life. The initiative of the federal government through the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme is highly commendable.”
He said the association greatly appreciates the recognition of agro-inputs dealers as the closest and most reliable link between input manufacturers and farmers. Mr Ayeni explained that an agro-input shop is a super market where farmers visit for their seeds, fertilizer, agro-chemicals, farm equipment/implements as well as advice on various challenges on their farms.
With this initiative, he said the farmers can now get all their inputs in just one location thereby reducing stress and expenses. He said their membership spreads across Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti States and stands at about 800. “We commend the federal government for building these projects and hope that other centres will soon be built across other local government areas in all the states of the federation,” he added. He thanked the Oyo State government for providing the land for the centres.