Oyo State has been declared as a hub of investment opportunities by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
The assertion came after a delegation from both organisations toured facilities and ongoing agro-industrial projects across the state as part of a two-day appraisal mission for the development of a Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zone (SAPZ) in Oyo State.
The SAPZ is a key African strategic programme of the AfDB and Oyo has been selected as one of six states to kick start the project.
The proposed SAPZ will complement the three Agro-Industrial Hubs currently being developed by the Oyo State government. The Fashola Hub is expected to be completed by December 2021 and two other hubs are proposed to be ready by end of Q2, 2022.
Led by the Director-General of the Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency (OYSADA) Dr. Debo Akande, the delegation visited the site of the proposed AfDB/IFAD-financed 300-hectare SAPZ in Atan community in Akinyele LGA.
Dr. Akande disclosed that the facility will be serviced by an 8,700-hectare Farm Settlement that will be established in the community.
The delegation also toured the 1,200-hectare Fasola Farm Settlement which is currently being transformed into an Agro-Industrial Hub by the state government.
On completion, the hub will house dedicated crop production areas, an innovation hub, extensive ranching infrastructure and grazing fields for livestock production as well as agro-processing firms.
The Oyo state team and the AfDB-IFAD delegation also visited the newly revamped Oyo State-IITA Agribusiness Incubation Park which was moribund for over a decade but has been resuscitated by the administration of His Excellency Engr Seyi Makinde.
The Park houses a 10-hectare cashew plantation, a 20-hectare oil palm plantation, a cassava processing machine and various incubation centres where various youth-targeted pilot projects including the Youth Entrepreneurship Tomato Value Chain Project and the Cassava Value Chain Project which will incubate about 1000 youth farmers in Oyo State by 2022 are already in progress.
The head of the AfDB delegation Dr. Chuma Ezedinma at the end of the field visit expressed great satisfaction with the standard and scope of the facilities and projects, declaring them adequate investment prospects for the bank.
“What we understand is that the facilities are available for further investment, that’s what we are trying to assess the extent of investment we need to put in place, so I think the facilities we have looked at so far are adequate for us to do further investments in,” he said.
“We also know that we have done some environmental and social impact assessments for some of those facilities and they’re very good but we still need to sit down and discuss modalities for further investments we have to put on the ground.”
The team had on Monday paid a courtesy call on Governor Makinde on Monday in his office at Agodi Secretariat, Ibadan, with the governor assuring of his complete support for the SAPZ programme and reiterating his commitment to the realisation of the state’s agricultural potential.
Governor Makinde said his administration is focused on youth employment through the commercialisation of the state’s vast agricultural resources.
He also disclosed that his administration would through the IFAD-funded Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project, RAAMP, construct 200-kilometre rural roads this year.
“We are excited about this programme, because the four pillars, which this administration is standing on, are education, health, expansion of our economy and security. In expanding our economy, we are looking towards where we have a comparative advantage and that is agriculture,” Gov. Makinde said.
“We are keen to take our space in terms of agricultural outputs. So, this could not have come at a better time for us and, as an administration, because we want to take many of our unemployed youths off the streets, we know agriculture and agribusiness is the way to go.
“Let me take this opportunity to thank a partner, IFAD. They are involved in the Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project. Though we are about to kick off on that one, this year we are fixing over 200 kilometres of rural roads.
“When Dr. Debo Akande told me of this visit, I had to cancel other activities to meet with you to show the importance we attach to the SAPZ programme. So, you can expect support and attention from the topmost level of the government of Oyo State,” the governor said.
The AfDB/IFAD team also held a stakeholder meeting with private sector organisations, farmer groups, NGOs and representatives of the state government including Dr. Akande, the Chief of Staff to the Oyo State Governor Chief Bisi Ilaka and the Honorable Commissioner on Agriculture and Rural Development Hon. Muyiwa Ojekunle.
During his address, Chief Ilaka said the administration’s vision is to make Oyo State Africa’s leading agribusiness hub. He pointed out that ongoing projects such as the construction and rehabilitation of strategic roads, building a water irrigation system, revitalisation of dams in the state were all tied to building a solid foundation for agribusiness in the state.
Dr. Akande added that OYSADA has consolidated a six-point programme of interlinked projects aimed at making Oyo state an Agricultural hub and called for private sector and development partners to work with the government in actualising the vision.