IITA DG proffers solution for agriculture transformation

Olubunmi Osoteku, Ibadan

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The Director-General, DG, of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA, Dr Nteranya Sanginga, has disclosed that a double-digit investment in the agricultural sector, backed by a vibrant rural infrastructural network, would help states in Nigeria to accelerate the transformation of agriculture.

Sanginga said this when he led a team of the Management Staff of IITA on a courtesy visit to the Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde.

The meeting, which was facilitated by Debo Akande, Executive Adviser to the Governor on Agribusiness, was held at the Governor’s Office, Agodi,Secretariat, Ibadan.

Making reference to the Oyo State Agricultural Policy framework, the IITA boss said that Oyo State’s investment in agriculture had nosedived from about 7 percent to 2 percent from 1995 to 2017, adding that the new administration needed to reverse the trend.

Dr Sanginga disclosed, “No matter our good intentions, we will not see a transformation in agriculture if we continue to invest less than 10 percent of our budget on agriculture.”

In 2003, in Maputo, African heads of state made a commitment to invest at least 10 percent of their annual budgets in agriculture. Sixteen years after the declaration, only a few countries have implemented that declaration.

The IITA Boss explained that, “One of the countries that has fulfilled the commitment is Ethiopia…Ethiopia is today investing more than 10 percent and that country is witnessing a rapid transformation in agriculture.”

On rural infrastructure, Dr Sanginga said the government should pay close attention to rehabilitation of rural roads (feeder roads) to help the transportation of agricultural products from the farm to the markets.

He decried the deterioration of infrastructure in several farm settlements in Oyo State and urged the government to tackle the trend.

Dr Sanginga also called on the government to seek ways to involve the youths in agriculture, stressing that inclusiveness was imperative for sustainability in the agricultural development agenda of the State.

In his response, Governor Makinde commended the IITA DG for the courtesy visit and pledged the commitment of the State to work with IITA to achieve agricultural transformation.

The Governor noted that his administration had identified four pillars: education, rural infrastructure, economic development (agriculture), and security to help bring the dividends of democracy to the people of Oyo State.

He emphasised that for the state to attain economic development, agriculture must be transformed, “because most of our people depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Besides, through agricultural transformation, we will be able to provide the needed jobs for our youths…the jobs we promised during the election campaigns.”

On infrastructure, the Governor said work on one of the major agricultural roads (Moniya to Iseyin) would commence soon. On completion, the road would ease the movement of farm produce to the market. He also said that discussions were in top gear with the federal government to rehabilitate the Oyo-Iseyin road.

The members of the IITA team on the courtesy visit to the Governor were: Drs Kenton Dashiell, IITA Deputy Director General (Partnerships for Delivery); Alfred Dixon, Director for Development & Delivery; Tahirou Abdoulaye, Impact Economist; Godwin Atser, Digital Extension & Advisory Services Specialist; Toyin Oke, Manager, Resource Mobilization, Protocol and External Liaison; Oludamilare Odusanya and Adetola Ademosun, IITA Youth Agripreneurs.