The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, has called on Nigerians to aggressively engage in agriculture to end poverty and reduce unemployment in the country.
He added that such a venture would also help combat the dire effects of the current economic recession.
The king made the call at the Mike Omotosho Annual Lecture themed, “Increased Agricultural Productivity for Sustainable Economic Growth”.
The Ooni expressed concern that deforestation, which he said had reached an alarming rate in the country, had resulted in low productivity of farmers in food production.
He decried the pervasive attitude among people which has led them to abandon that which is the “bedrock of this country”. A situation that calls for a re-orientation and coming together of the citizenry for the achievement of a common goal.
Oba Adeyeye made reference to the dichromic flag of Nigeria and the significance of the green in it. He pointed out the potential that abounds in taking up agriculture as a people as “agriculture is the largest employment platform”.
Added to these, we will avail ourselves the opportunity to feed the world via exporting the excess food produced.and we all must practice it in entirety. Dr Mike Omotosho, the convener of the lecture, said the aim of the lecture was to reawaken the spirit of agriculture in people.
Dr Mike Omotosho, the convener of the lecture, said the aim of the lecture was to reawaken the spirit of agriculture in people.
Omotosho, also a founder of the Mike Omotosho Foundation, said the foundation had taken the responsibility of eradicating poverty through agriculture.
He stressed the need to improve agricultural production to meet both local and export needs of the country.
As part of the foundation’s efforts, it, according to Omotosho, has acquired over 15,000 hectares of farmland in various states with over 300 of that already cultivated.
“We have an agriculture academy. A lot of people have known that beyond being a farmer, you can also engage in other areas of agriculture.
“We intend to come up with a farm known as Niger Palms, that will be the largest palm plantation in Africa that will employ over 15,000 people, within the next three to five years,’” he said.
Also at the event was Chief Emmanue Ijewere, the vice-president, Nigeria Agribusiness Group, who fingered inadequate storage facilities were a major threat to the growth of agriculture in the country.
This has led to the ironic situation where Nigeria, the largest producer of tomato is also the highest importer of tomato paste.
He said no fewer than 50 per cent of the food perish during harvest alone.
To curb this, the businessman advised the building of “packaging centres because there are so many opportunities in agribusiness and value chain”
He was there to represent the Group’s president, Alhaji Sani Dangote.
In his address, the National Chairman of the All Farmer Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Mr Kabiru Ibrahim, said that only `briefcase’ farmers were being recognised in the country.
He appealed to the Federal Government to involve small-scale farmers in its diversification effort.