Oyo State Governor, ‘Seyi Makinde has declared that the state will always be open to partnerships that can aid it to achieve its vision of expanding the state’s economy through agribusiness, solid mineral development, tourism and the development of infrastructure.
He maintained that his government has, since 2019, embarked on massive infrastructure development, inter-connecting the zones of the state and linking the zones to agriculture belt all with a view to achieving its objective of growing the economy of the state through agribusiness.
He added that his government remained committed to implementing the Oyo State Roadmap for Sustainable Development, 2023-2027 optimally, noting, however, that it is open to collaboration in the areas of training its young entrepreneurs, modern methods of agriculture and agro-processing, among others.
The governor stated this on Tuesday, while receiving the Netherlands’ Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Wolters Plomp and his team, stating that the state will continue to encourage agribusiness development because agriculture has always been a forte for Oyo State since the days of the Western Region Government.
The Netherlands’ delegation was on a courtesy visit to Oyo State to discuss bilateral issues, particularly in the area of promoting agriculture, food security and trade, Plomp said while speaking to the governor at the Courtesy Room of the Governor’s Office.
Plomp, who congratulated Makinde on his leadership and his achievements in the agriculture sector, having led the state to become a leader in agriculture production in the South-West, said The Netherlands sees the six states of the zone as a formidable force in agriculture and production.
In his welcome address, Governor Makinde thanked The Netherlands for its special interest in Oyo State in particular and the South-West states in general, stating that Oyo state is the economic and political capital of the South-West.
He recalled how Ibadan, the state capital, is the location of the first skyscraper building in the country, known as Cocoa House, and built from the proceeds of agriculture, noting that Oyo State has continued to maintain the lead in agriculture and agribusiness and that his government will continue to do everything possible to ensure agriculture thrives.
Governor Makinde, however, stated that his administration has added solid mineral development and tourism to the areas of focus through which the economy of the state can be further expanded.
He said: “We think tourism should also be utilised to fund our economy and Oyo State is also blessed with solid minerals. We are a major lithium belt and people are talking about energy transition. So, we think Oyo State can play a major part.
“Specifically, I am glad that you have noticed that we are a major player in agriculture and I believe that Oyo State is pretty much where it can get the most meal. So, we want to expand that.
“We were at Fasola two weeks ago to commission the road linking one zone of the state to our agricultural belt. So, we have really encouraged that expansion and we will also encourage you to encourage them. Whatever we need to do as a state to make business more successful, we will do it.
“And for us in Oyo State, it was so easy to know where our comparative and competitive advantage is. We are not just big in size but in terms of also having arable land where we can plant anything and they germinate. Sometimes, you don’t need fertiliser here.
“We encourage agribusiness as opposed to what obtained in the past where mechanisation was not taken seriously. For four years running, we have trained a number of our youths. Under our SAfER package, some of them are being empowered.
“We are working towards agro-processing as we are one of the states approved for the setting up of the agro-processing zone in the country. We want Oyo State to be at the forefront of agro-processing.
“We have the land and all around here, we have the research institutes. We have the NIHORT, CRIN, IAR&T apart from the IITA. We have everything here and we just need to leverage them.
“We are engaging with IITA on STEP to encourage our young pupils on agriculture and some of them are surprised we go to their schools to introduce fishing and other things to them. We started from a school but have expanded to all the senatorial districts in the state.
“We have covered quite a bit in terms of interconnecting zones, because when we came in, the project we first did was to connect Ibadan with the food production centre, which is Oke-Ogun, and we have since connected other zones together with the agricultural belts.”
Earlier in his address, The Netherlands’ Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Plomp, lauded the leadership and achievements of Governor Makinde in the agriculture sector, stating that his country sees Oyo State as a valuable strategic partner in agribusiness.
He added that his team’s visit to the state was about agriculture production, processing and opportunities in agribusiness, noting that Netherlands would train thousands of farmers in the state.
Plomp said: “Our visit today is about agriculture production, about agriculture processing, about opportunities for agribusiness, it is about trade.
“I am proud to say that in Agribusiness and agriculture we see a lot of opportunities in Nigeria and in the South-West and particularly in Oyo State.
“I can see that Oyo State is the food basket not only in the South-West but in the whole of Nigeria and it has a lot of potential. We really see Oyo as a valuable strategic partner in Agribusiness.
“I am happy to say that we will train thousands of farmers in Oyo State. We are looking forward to an important event that will take place in Abuja, which is Youth in Agribusiness.”