The Ogun State Government has concluded arrangements to engage 40,000 smallholder farmers with a focus on women and youths, through its Ogun State Economic Transformation Project (OGSTEP), so as to ensure sustainable agricultural development in the State.
OGSTEP, a five-year Public-Private Partnership World Bank-assisted initiative would enhance agricultural development, job creation, food security and economic empowerment across the 20 Local Government Areas of the State.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Dotun Sorunke, revealed this in Abeokuta, while addressing participants at a day stakeholders’ engagement forum on Agricultural Value Chain Development Process.
Dr. Sorunke said the Agric sector of OGSTEP was set in motion by the State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, with the mandate to increase private sector participation in the economy of the State, towards improving the agricultural production and productivity of smallholder farmers.
Also speaking, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Agriculture, Dr. Angel Adelaja-Kuye, stated that the Project would achieve a gender balance with the inclusion of women and youths, as well as key players across various value-chains for farmers’ engagement.
Earlier in her address, the Project Coordinator, Mrs. Mosun Owo-Odunsi, represented by a Technical and Vocational Education and Training Specialist, Mr. Fatai Osunsanya, emphasised the need to boost agriculture through business-friendly environment that would attract more private investors in agri-business with secured off-takers to promote industrialisation.
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In her presentation, the Acting Project Manager, OGSTEP (Agric), Dr. (Mrs.) Oluseyi Olugbire, said OGSTEP would operate on a farmer per hectare basis, with the government providing fund and infrastructural amenities, such as road, irrigation system, electrification and storage facilities, that would be of a great value to agricultural activities in the chosen areas.
Olugbire pointed out that farmers who cultivate maize, rice, cassava, sesame, soybean, horticulture, aquaculture and poultry would partake in the programme.
Responding on behalf of the farmers, the Chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Ogun State Chapter, Alhaja Lola Kushimo, lauded the initiative of the present administration at improving the livelihood of farmers.