Osun O-REAP:Beyond The Purview Of Mischief

Cocoa-farmersThere is no doubt about  the fact that agricultural policies and programme of the current administration in Osun State headed by Rauf Aregbesola remain a key factor for economic transformation through food security, job and wealth creation especially for the youths.

It is not an overstatement that the state’s agricultural programme called Osun Rural Enterprise and agriculture programme (O-REAP) has been very strategic to the Six Point Integral Action Plan of the Rauf Aregbesola administration targeted at farm estate development through the upgrade of infrastructures in the existing farm settlements  such as rural roads, construction of culverts, channelization, river crossing among others.

The roads completed are Iwo-Pataara (12km), Esa-Oke-Esa-Odo Farm Settlement Road 5km, Mokore Farm Settlement Road (17.8km), Orile-Owu-Ago-Owu Farm Settlement-Ogedengbe Road (30km), Idiroko-Akinleye Farm Settlement Road (10.8km), Farmers Plank Sellers, Ido-Osun Road Network (5.5km) and Alaguntan Forest Reserve Road (20km).

Also completed are QIIP Farm Road, Kuta (9km), Okinni-Igbokiti-O-Fish Farm (9.8km), Reclamation of Olufi Market, grading of Iyanfoworogi-Orisunbare-Ajobo Junction and Aba Opa (10km), Fashina-Agbagba-Adekanye-Osu Express Road (5.5km), bridge on Saasa river to link Akinlalu, Oyere, while several other are on-going.

The O-REAP programme is an innovative programme and unique in its design as it focuses on a very ambitious and aggressive programme of mass food production through the implementation of different component activities by an array of ministries, departments and agencies of government.

It was also designed to strengthen farmers’ cooperatives associations, expand land available for food crop production and promote ground breaking investments and partnerships in agriculture.

Contrary to some spurious and very frivolous allegations in a section of the media by an opposition party that sees nothing good in the Aregbesola administration,off-handedly declaring that the O-REAP programe was fraudulent and amounts to nothing for the farmers, over 150 rural roads especially those leading to the existing the farm estates have indeed been constructed with river crossings and culverts where necessary amongst many other landmarks as will be revealed presently.

As at the time of filing this report, all the nine farm estates in the state including the ones established by chief Obafemi Awolowo in the 60s have been upgraded with necessary infrastructural facilities including electricity and potable water.All these were provided for the entire population living in the estates.

The government has also set up farm service centres in the nine federal constituencies in the state to enable farmers have access to agricultural inputs.

It was further gathered that 78 hectares of cattle hub was established at Oloba farm with the capacity of 10,000 cattle at full operation ,while an additional 400 hectares and 1,600 hectares of land had been secured by the state government for development of two additional cattle hubs in Ede and Ejigbo.

In the provision of storage facilities, one 500 metric tonnes capacity warehouse abandoned since 2009 has been revisited and completed in Osogbo; another 1,000 metric tonnes capacity warehouse abandoned since 1991 when the state was created has been completed while one hundred 10metric tonnes cribs have been constructed across the state to serve as on and off farm storage facilities.

The present administration has also empowered youth cooperative groups consisting of 40 youths engaging in cattle fattening, as part of first phase of the O-Beef empowerment programme across the State of Osun.

“N40million has been given as loans to support Piggery Farmers in the State, 3,645 Farmers across the State benefited from the sum of N476,350,000 from the Government Guaranteed Agriculture Loan Scheme; 268 Farmers benefited from the sum of N45,662,065 from O-REAP Loan Scheme, N153.6m ($952,000) agriculture finance loan for 66 farmer cooperative group”

The State Government procured 5,000 metric tons of fertilizers and sold it to farmers at 50% subsidy over the last 2 years; 1,830 rural farmers in 61 local communities received farm inputs from the state in collaboration with UNICEF. The government also re-constituted the fertilizer distribution committee to block leakages and ensure that the fertilizer gets to the farmers directly through innovative private sector led agricultural input supply programme.

It is on record that the state government sponsored 40 youths to Germany for intensive training in modern agriculture and 96 secondary schools assisted in arable crop production, fisheries and livestock production systems since 2013.

The government also established (O-REAP) Youth Academy as a deliberate effort towards giving youths a sustainable career in modern agriculture and 1,606 OYES Cadets have been trained in Modern Agriculture at the newly established O-REAP Youth Academies located in the nine federal constituencies of the state for increased food production.

Corroborating the feat recorded by the current administration in the agricultural programme, the Director General of the Office of Economic Development and Partnerships(OEDP) and  Coordinator of the O-REAP Program, Dr. Charles Diji Akinola said that the state government further went into partnering with private sector such as TUNS Farm Nigeria Limited to promote broiler production to empower poultry farmers and create jobs under the Osun Broilers Out-growers Production Scheme (OBOPS) with the sum of N539, 435,200. 578. Farms have been stocked with over 3,654,612 Day-Old-Chicks from inception in 2011 and Over N200 million have been made as profit by the Out-growers in the Scheme.

He stated that these schemes are meant to supply chicken and fish to O-MEAL Food Vendors to feed the Grade one to four pupils in the state public schools under the free school feeding.

Akinola also stated that the state government has for example, through an O-REAP programme activity QIIP encouraged rice production at Onilapa (Ogbagba) on a 410hectares of land aimed at increasing production yield from 1.5tonnes to 5tonnes.

On Tree Crop Production, Akinola noted that 64,000 oil palm seedlings and 25,000 cashew seedlings have been raised for sale, 500,000 cocoa seedlings, 6,000 Kola and 6,000 bitter kola seedlings distributed free to cocoa/bitter kola farmers respectively across the state while an all year round vegetable production project in Kuta on a 210 hectares of land is now fully operational.

He explained further that 2,000 farmers were supported to plant 1.3 million plantain suckers for refined plantain flour production, encourages cooperative groups to cultivate 80 hectares of yam farm cluster, for yam flour production adding that over 5,000 new farmer cooperative groups have been registered in the state by the Ministry of Commerce, Cooperatives and Empowerment.

Under the agricultural land expansion programme, Akinola noted that land validation and perimeter survey in nine farm settlements using GIS and Remote Sensing Technology, has been carried out under the O-REAP programme.

While noting that Aregbesola’s agricultural program has within the last three and half years put food on the tables of the people of the state, created jobs and wealth especially for the youths,Akinola described the wild and unfounded allegation of the opposition that the programme was fraudulent and meaningless to farmers in the state as reckless and mischievous in intent and should be dismissed by the good people of State of Osun.