The Governor of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has called on all able bodied Nigerians to take to farming on full or part time basis as alternative to the over-dependence on oil for the quick recovery of the ailing economy of the country.
The Governor stated this while addressing people at the 2016 flag-off of cashew planting season and roll out of cashew expansion programme of Federal Ministry of Agriculture and rural development at Ogudu Village, Ife-East Local Government Area of the state.
This was even as the Minister for Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh said the ministry will embark on plantation of 2 million cashew every year for 4 years and that the stage is set to ensure massive plantation of cocoa, plantain and banana across the nation.
Aregbesola stressed that the only way for Nigerians to contribute meaningfully to national economic development was for able men and women to go back to farms.
He called on other leaders in all tiers of government in Nigeria to stop relying on the failed oils sector and seek for means to sustain their economy.
The Governor noted that there could be no better time than now for all hands to be on deck to ensure that the economy of the country from oil to Agriculture.
According to him, “I am particularly happy and enthralled at the efforts being made to promote the cultivation of cashew, noted for not just being a food crop but a cash crop as well.
“This is well timed at this season when it has become imperative to diversify our economy from its oil orientation to others more sustainable areas like agriculture”.
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for living up to the expectations of Nigerians through his achievements in the last few months, saying the uniqueness of his good governance had been felt in all aspects of the economy especially in agriculture.
Governor who described cashew as a money-making and health-promoting crop, said the state is ready to partner with any investor to boost the agricultural sector.
He said the state is blessed with fertile hectares of land, adding that his government would not hesitate to tap the numerous potentials in agriculture in sustaining its economy.
The Governor commended Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi for complementing his efforts to revamp agriculture in the state.
He therefore implored other traditional rulers to emulate the good gestures of Oba Ogunwusi in rendering social services to the society.
“The only way for us to contribute meaningfully to national economic development was for our able men and women to go back to farms.
“Quick recovery of our economy remains the duty of all and as a matter of fact, nothing is coming from oil anymore. And for this reason, we must all embrace agriculture to deliver our country from this financial mess.
“We must henceforth stop relying on the failed oil sector and seek for ways to sustain the economy through the promotion of the non-oil sectors.
“It is a glaring fact that the current economic challenges befell the country was a product of 16 years misrule and bad governance of past administrations in the country.
“Our state is blessed with fertile hectares of land good for farming, hence, triggers our ambition to tap the numerous potentials in agriculture to enhance the general well being of the citizens”, Aregbesola stated.
Earlier, Minister of Agriculture, Chief Innocent Audu Ogbeh who described the flag-off ceremony as the beginning of agricultural revolution in the country, said stage has already been set to ensure massive plantation of cocoa, plantain and banana across the nation.
Chief Ogbeh disclosed that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture was ready to embark on full plantation of 2million cashew every year for the next four years.
The minister stressed that the purpose of quick intervention in agriculture by the Federal Government was to ensure that the nation regain her lost glory as the food basket of Africa, saying all hands must be on deck to revitalize the sector for the betterment of all.
He lamented over the sliding state of the nation’s economy, assuring that the current government was fully ready to maximize the embedded potentials in the non-oil sectors.
Chief Ogbeh attributed the financial crisis ravaging the country especially the states of the federation to what he referred to as over-reliance on the mono-economic policy of the country, reiterating that the current government led by President Muhammadu Buhari would not rest on his oars to reposition the nation’s economy.
He said part of the objectives of the present government in agriculture was to ensure that every Nigerian has access to quality agricultural production and other farm produce without hiccup irrespective of distance or region.
Chief Ogbeh maintained that since agriculture is the largest employer of labour, his ministry would deploy necessary mechanism that would facilitate mass employment for Nigerian youths so as to reduce the scourge of unemployment in the country.
According to him “This historic occasion marks another milestone in our concerted efforts at resuscitating, repositioning and restructuring agricultural sector in the country.
“It also signifies the beginning of agricultural revolution in the country as we are seriously bent to ensure massive plantation of cashew, cocoa, plantain, banana and other agricultural farm produce across the nation.
“Our prompt intervention in agriculture was premised on need to swiftly rescue the nation from being collapsed due to her over-dependent on crude oil.
“Our government had identified agriculture as a key economic sector capable of turning around the general well being of Nigerians.
“We are fully ready to embark on full plantation of 2million cashew every year for the next four years in order to maximize the embedded potentials in the non-oil sectors.
“It is regrettable that we found ourselves in this economic mess due to misapplication of priority and mismanagement of our commonwealth, but nevertheless, no stone would be left unturned by the current government to ensure that the country regain her lost glory in all sectors.
“Though the over-reliance on the mono-economic system is also a contributory factor to this financial impasse but I can assure every citizen that the present government of President Muhammadu Buhari would not rest on his oars at repositioning the nation’s economy by ensuring adequate production of foods for local consumption as well as for export.
“Our ministry had already identified agriculture as the largest employer of labour, hence signaled us to deploy necessary mechanism to boost agriculture by engaging youths in the process so as to reduce the scourge of unemployment in the country”, he added.
Chief Ogbeh who described Governor Aregbesola as a visionary leader per excellence, said his landmark achievements since assumption of office remained memorable legacy in the political annals of the state.
He disclaimed the allegation that the financial challenges facing some states was the cause of their governors, saying the cash crunch tormenting the states was a product of national economic imbroglio.
Chief Ogbeh however called on all and sundry especially the youths to demonstrate interest in agriculture as part of their contributory efforts to national economic development and nation building.
In his remarks, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi disclosed that 2,000 hectares of land had been acquired and cultivated for cashew plantation, adding that as soon as the people are showing interest in farming, more land would be released for that purpose.
Oba Ogunwusi expressed delight on the commencement of this year 2016 Flag-off of Cashew Planting season in Ife, saying with that, Ife had proven its stand as the ancestral home of yoruba nation.
The royal father further noted that the flag-off ceremony in the state was a clear testimony to undaunting efforts of the present administration in the state towards the resuscitation of agriculture sector.
Oba Ogunwusi who decried on the precipitous slide in the oil sector, said the time has come for government at all levels to shift attention to agriculture in stimulating and reviving the nation’s economy.
The revered monarch stressed that the massive plantation of cashew in the state was in no doubt the beginning of a new dawn in the agricultural revolution in the country, adding that with such giant stride being recorded, the state has set a formidable goal to rescue the nation.
Oba Ogunwusi who described agriculture as the only eternal and everlasting bailout to Nigeria’s economy, said the time has come for every Nigerian especially the youths to go back to farms.
He said, “I am very elated that the commencement of this year 2016 Flag-off of Cashew Planting season starts in Ife and with this significant move, we have proven our stand as the ancestral home of yoruba nation
“Unequivocally, this flag-off ceremony in the state was a clear testimony vindicating our Governor on his untiring efforts towards the resuscitation of agriculture sector.
“It is a well-known fact that our economy had been seriously challenged due to incessant drop in prices of crude oil at the international market, meanwhile, the time has come for government at all levels to shift attention to agriculture in stimulating and reviving the nation’s economy.
“We must all see agriculture as the only realistic alternative to crude oil at this critical period as government at various levels are working assiduously to enhance economic prosperity.
“We are starting with 2,000 hectares of land for the cultivation of cashew and as soon as our people begin to show interest, more land would be released for cultivation.