The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has said that the state government will drive agribusiness investments in the state with the deployment of new technologies and strong participation of private investors.
Obaseki said this in a chat with journalists after a meeting with the Director General (DG) of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, on the sidelines of the International Workshop Water-Energy-Food Systems in Sub-Sahara, held at the IITA campus in Ibadan, Oyo State.
He said, “The most important of the challenges is trying to reenact and reestablish the culture of agriculture, to take out the drudgery of the past and bring in science and technology. We want to look at agriculture as a business with its value chain. People don’t grow crops for its own sake, it is because it has several uses aside food, such as agro-processing and as industrial goods.
“As a governor, I am here to see how I can explore opportunities with the institute, which we are very proud of. In the last 50 years, they have been helping us to understand the crops we grow in the tropics. We are also here to see how we can go into partnerships and work on specific projects.
Noting that the state is paving the way for private investors to contribute in deepening investment in agribusiness, he said, “In Edo State, for instance, we have shut down all the colleges of agriculture and are restarting them with new curriculum. We are getting the private sector to get involved, even in those schools, to train the required manpower.”
According to him, “For us as politicians and as a government, I campaigned and promised that I was going to enhance the well being of my people and that I was going to create jobs. That is from a political perspective, I made a promise and I have to deliver. There are a number of things I need to do to deliver the result. The first thing is to identify the issues, challenges and problems. But more importantly, you have to get and mobilise resources to make that happen.
He restated that Edo State is one of the foremost agricultural states in Nigeria, as it has some of the biggest investments in oil palm and rubber plantations in the country, assuring that he was intent on returning the state to its glorious days as an agribusiness hub.
He said, “Don’t forget that before oil became a fad, we were firstly an agrarian country. Edo State was the largest producer of oil palm and therefore we had the oil palm research institute. We were also a major producer of rubber. When I mean producer, I mean global producer of things like rubber, so we had a rubber research institute 60 years ago in Benin. So, we have had a culture of agriculture and agribusiness.”