Nigeria not maximising potential in agriculture – Obasanjo

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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Thursday stressed the need for youths to be actively engaged in agricultural business to enhance jobs creation, poverty alleviation and the desired national development.

Obasanjo made the assertions in Iseyin, Iseyin Local Government Area of Oyo State, at the Oke-Ogun Agriculture Youths Summit.

“Though we are not maximising the potential in agriculture, with effective leadership, proper sensitisation, peace and security, much action and favourable government policies, we can move to a better and greater level.

“For us to attain a better place in agricbusiness, all hands must be on deck.

“Individuals, governments, corporate organisations, entrepreneurs and others must collaborate to ensure we do it rightly,” the former president said.

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Obasanjo disclosed that he initiated the Ikere Gorge Dam, Ogun Osun River Basin and the Badagry to Sokoto Expressway, to open up roads and opportunities that would enhance agriculture.

The Ikere Gorge Dam is a major earth-fill dam in Iseyin Local Government area of Oyo State in the South-West on Ogun River.

Its reservoir capacity is 690 million m3. The dam was initiated by the military regime of General Olusegun Obasanjo and started in 1983 by the administration of former President Shehu Shagari.

Obasanjo said that Gov. Seyi Makinde of Oyo State had promised to revamp the Ikere Gorge Dam.

The former president, while commending the organisers of the summit, promised to support the youth association with 500 hectares of farmland.

Also, a former Minister of Agriculture, Bamidele Dada, said that youths should form a strong collaboration and alliances with both local and international agencies for more support.

In his remarks, the Chairman, Niji Farms, Mr Adeniji Kolawole, who spoke extensively on agriculture business, said Oke-Ogun was endowed with human and natural resources.

Kolawole, however, expressed regret that such has not been fully maximised.

He offered to assist youths through training, as off takers of their products and facilitating financial loans through banks to reduce their interest.

Also, Mr Ahmed Raji (SAN), decried the urban-rural migration and the level of importation of what should be produced at local level.

“The business aspect of agriculture should be explored to its fullest, so as to create wealth, food security, regional development and a sense of fulfilment from choosing agriculture as a profession,” he said.

Earlier, Mr Bola Olalere, Coordinator of Oke-Ogun Youths Association, explained that motives behind the summit was to enlighten and encourage younger generations on importance of agriculture business and the need to tap from its immense benefits.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Oke-Ogun area of the state comprises 10 local government areas.

The zone is generally regarded as the food basket of the state as farming is the main occupation of people of the area. (NAN)

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