—As He Signs $50million Agriculture Investment
Yetunde Oladejo, Osogbo
Osun state governor,Mr. Rauf Aregbesola has admonished the people of the state to embrace agriculture for the prosperity of the state to be guaranteed in the face of the grim economic realities confronting the nation.
The governor stated this in Osogbo at the signing of $50million Agriculture Investment with the United States of American (USA) Firm for the provision of modern agricultural Technological Services.
The signing of the partnership with US JIL Firm Limited according to Aregbesola was aimed at given fresh impetus to the agricultural sector revolution drive in the state as well as serve as an alternative to the dwindling allocation from the federation account.
The MoU covered the development and infrastructural upgrade of a breeding, fattening and processing of beef cattle ranch and the establishment of agricultural equipment leasing and hire centres to be managed by JIL farm Limited.
Aregbesola who expressed appreciation to the investors for their interest in the state assured them that no contribution will be spared in ensuring that the venture comes out a success that will become a benchmark for the nation.
Noting that Osun is predominantly an agrarian state, he said the survival of the state is tied to agriculture.
According to him, “We cannot survive without the success of farmers. What has been sustaining the state is agriculture. If the farmers succeed, they will fulfill their civic responsibility and we all will be better for it.
“We slumbered because of the oil windfall. All lands in Osun must now be available for agriculture. Farming is the only way we can work and progress without stress.”
In his remarks, an experienced American animal husbandry expert and a member of JIL Farms Limited investment team, Jerry Cunningham, thanked the people of the state for the hands of partnership extended to them.
“We’ve always wanted to do this and now we’ve got an opportunity. You’re going to be number one in the country in animal husbandry with the latest technology we are deploying. We will not let you down. We’ve got all our equipment on ground”.
Cunningham further expressed the keenness of the team to work with indigenous farmers and transfer best practices in animal husbandry and modern agricultural technology competences. “We’ve got talent in Nigeria, but we’ve got to manage it. We will train your people to operate the equipment”.
Dr Ayoade Akere, leader of the JIL Farms Limited team assured the governor and people of the state that the investors are poised to impact the host community greatly while doing business.
He noted that not only that hundreds of people will be employed; tourism in the host communities will also be improved greatly.
As an offspring of the Osun Beef Chain Development (O-Beef) and Osun Rural Enterprise And Agricultural Programmes (O-REAP), the proposed ranch will birth on 1,500 and 476 hectares of land in Ilawo town and Isatmosa farm in Iwo respectively. It is proposed to have irrigation for all-year-round controlled grazing for the breeding and development of 2,500 foundation stock breeding cattle herd which will include the Tuli and Boran species, which are known to be highly adapted to rainforest areas.
The project will also include the development of a 10,000-head capacity feedlot centre, the construction of a feed mill for processed grains, a meat processing plant, and a packing plant for vegetables. A youth training centre, a retreat centre for trainings and a livestock and farming outgrower scheme will feature to guarantee the state government’s vision of encouraging the transfer of modern agricultural technology and best practices to indigenous farmers in the state of Osun. With support from foreign agricultural scientists from the University of Nebraska, United States of America, JIL farms, would finance, operate and maintain the agricultural land into ranches and farmland in such a manner as to maintain the infrastructure and develop additional farmland for production of livestock and crops.
The project is expected to serve as a catalyst for agricultural development for the economic benefit of the State and the local communities involved. When concluded, the project will deliver facilities such as a feedlot centre, irrigation for dry season farming and processing centers for the products produced. Others include the development of a plan for local farmers to have farm areas prepared for them and a training program for the youth in conjunction with the Government and the College of Agriculture, Osun State University, and the University of Nebraska.
Also, as a way bridging the identified agricultural technology deficit among farmers in the state, the partnership has included the establishment of modern agricultural equipment leasing and hire centres. This will ensure that sound technological supports are provided to boost the current steady progress being recorded in the agriculture sector and catapult the cultivation of food crops in the State.
Under a joint-venture partnership, Osun state government will transfer some of their current equipment service centres to JIL Farms to develop agricultural equipment leasing and hire centres in the State of Osun on a five-year basis subject to further renewal. JIL Farms will provide finance and establish the agricultural equipment leasing centre to provide modern farming equipment, technologies, and techniques to local farmers on fair and workable terms taking into the consideration the profitability of the scheme to the farmers. Such equipment include: Tractors of various types and purposes, processing equipment, storage facilities, irrigation facilities, among others.