A unique network of over five Non-governmental organizations around Nigeria and their foreign affiliates seek to provide answers to food security in Nigeria.
They are Justice Research Centre, Egbe and Egbe Farm Research Group, Roseline Ifeta Organization, Eleg Venture Nigeria and Queen Isedu Foundation and their foreign affiliates have helped develop a new food security index and map in Nigeria.
The five NGO’s food security analysts did a wide range of face-to-face assessments, including ‘baseline’ assessments (also known as Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analyses, or CFSVA) and Emergency Food Security Assessments (EFSA) in rapid and slow-onset emergencies such as floods, droughts and conflict situations.
EFSA reports provide a snapshot of the food security situation in Iwo, Osogbo, Ife, Ede and Ilesa in Osun State. In food security, aside being cheap, Osun State is the most stable in Nigeria. Osun produces its own tomatoes, yams and others.
Because food security assessment takes time, they were complemented by ongoing monitoring to track changes in people’s food security situations, allowing for programmatic fine tuning. This includes gathering information on food consumption, household incomes, strategies to cope at difficult times and prices to identify how seasonality affects food security.
The State of Osun’s agricultural programme is gradually yielding the desired results as the good people of the state are being empowered through land preparation and free distribution, credits for improved seedlings, fertilizer, etc and commercial production of honey, fish, cattle and birds.
Analysing the risk of food security across 36 states in Nigeria, the index found that the Osun has the most stable food supplies according to the Food Security Risk Index in Nigeria and ranked first. The Food Security Risk Index (FSRI) measures the availability, stability and access to basic food stocks, as well as the impacts on nutrition and health that result from food insecurity.
To provide an accurate picture of Nigerian food security, each state was rated on its performance across 19 key indicators. These include: agricultural imports, exports and production of cereals, food production per capita, rate of undernourishment per capita, water resources, GDP per capita and others.
Osun performs particularly well due to its massive ratio of food exports compared to imports and, despite the economic downturn, its continuing buying power. Osun is one of the states in Nigeria that have created food independence. With Osun rice, meat, garri, yam and others, the state has produced its own food and ranked first.
There is ownership and control of local food in Osun. Governor Aregbesola has invested in policy and programme of farming to boost food security and this has helped to put the prices of food very low. Aregbesola’s intervention in agriculture has helped to restore food security which stopped the disappearance of small farms and the emergence of multinational farms.
To achieve its agricultural development objectives, Osun has designed and is implementing the Osun Rural Enterprise and Agriculture Program also known as O’REAP. Agriculture has been the main stay of Osun’s economy over the decades, especially since the giant strides made by the old Western Region Government. However, very little progress has been made over the years in building on this foundation to transform the economy of the state using agriculture as a driver. Due to a lack of focus in the agriculture sector, the gains achieved by the Western Region government have been gradually eroded. O’REAP is the state’s programme to achieve agriculture reformation and economic growth.
The state investment in agriculture sees to resuscitation of the moribund Cocoa Processing Company in Ede, which received a lifeline from Osun government partnering two Chinese firms. The cocoa products company is expected to create jobs and generate revenue for the state. The two China-based companies -Skyron Corporation and Golden Monkey Group of Company – has since commenced production at the factory.
David Shi, who led the Skyron group, said the company has been in the business of cocoa processing in the last 10 years and that their firm is similar to that of Ede. Osun state cocoa farmers dominate cocoa farming in Edo State. They have more than 1000 cocoa farm camps in Edo State. The partnership with the government of Osun in reviving the cocoa project will end up being a win-win partnership project.
Oloba Farm Settlement, Iwo where 1,500 hectares of land have been acquired, and a 78-hectare cattle ranch established for the fattening of Cattle and Goats. The ranch has the capacity to produce 10,000 cattle amongst other animals being reared for meat production.
Recall that the government of Osun sent 40 youths to Germany to acquire modern agricultural techniques in 2015. Another set of 2,806Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme, OYES cadet were also trained in modern agriculture practices at the O’REAP Youth Academy, Odua farmers Academy and Leventis foundation.
The Governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has said that the O’REAP Youth Academy is more than a mere indication of its administration’s resolve to improve agricultural intervention programme but a way of banishing hunger and unemployment in Osun. He pointed out that a total of 610 O’YES cadets were trained last year at the O’REAP Youth Academy Farm Centres located across the nine Federal Constituencies in the state.
The governor stressed that 20 participants were selected per local government and 10 from Ife East Area Office. He also added that this year’s edition of the O’REAP Youth Academy, witnessed a significant rise in the number of youth participants, noting that each of the 332 wards in the state is fairly represented with three O’YES Cadets per ward, amounting to 996 Cadets to be trained in modern agriculture at the nine training centres of the O’REAP Youth Academy.
According to Mr Governor, “some of those trained then have formed themselves into cooperatives and have also settled down for serious agricultural enterprises with meaningful financial support from the Quick Impact Intervention Programme (QIIP) of O’REAP and other micro-credit windows of the State Government of Osun.
Aregbesola held that the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (O’YES), its other component OYESTECH and O’REAP Youth Academy are some of the major platforms through which its administration is scaling down youth unemployment and profitably engaging our youths in the State.
Osun is the largest producer of cassava in the country. Increase the cultivation of arable crops such as maize, cassava, cowpea, vegetables, etc. for local consumption. This will ensure that food is available in the state in sufficient quantity and at affordable prices. It also ensures that the state is adequately protected against natural disasters such as drought; food shortages; and the vagaries of the market place such as price inflation.
The Bees farm covered about 11.56 hectares of land that will not only produce honey in commercial quantities but will train at least 300 youths annually and by implication reduce unemployment among the youths of the state. The O’honey apiary project that the Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola embarked upon became a reality when it was commissioned at Oyan in Odo-Otin local government, the first of its kind in Black Africa.
Cattle ranch at Oloba Farm, Iwo farm settlement was revived by the government of Ogbeni Aregbesola who declared that the ranch is open to whosoever is interested in the cattle business and that his government will not only support the individual financially but guarantee security of lives and property at the ranch. It was the late sage Chief Bola Ige that established the ranch that was later abandoned by successive administrations.
It was this vision that made the government of Ogbeni Aregbesola to partner with the German government that sent a seven man experts drawn from their agricultural sector State of Saxson Anhalt to meet the farmers’ cooperatives in the state, soil scientists, animal husbandry experts and others on how to improve agricultural products in the state.
If the partnership sails through, it is expected to break the country’s reliance on imported rice, generate more income for the state and also create job opportunities for the populace of the state, as people from every part of the country would be coming into the state for Osun Rice. One of the farms in Songbe borders, near Ogbagba in Iwo area of the state, attested to the drive.
The plan is to cultivate 450 hectares mainly for rice in the next three weeks, for the new planting season. “The idea of the farm is to run an integrated farming system. There is a plan to build the processing plant, which is the second phase of the project for processing of rice paddy.
At Okuku in Odo-Otin local government council area of the state, the governor and the state executive council members were more than surprised to see a huge fish farm covering acres of land and with 120,000 fish under production and is now ready for sale, a product of the fish farm initiative of the administration.
The state Government of Osun is on the verge of becoming the hub for rice production in the Southwest, with its recent move to focus on rice cultivation, as part of its agricultural policies. The governor, Rauf Aregbesola, visited one of the major rice farms collaborating with the state government to produce Ofada Rice in the state.
As the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA, marks its 50th anniversary, the institute recently inaugurated a new research station in Ago-Owu in Osun state, Nigeria, as part of efforts to expand its research agenda and create impact at farm level.
The Ago Owu research station is located in Ayedaade Local Government Area of Osun state, and will primarily serve as a research and training facility that will backstop the state’s agricultural programs and offer training support to the youth in the area in particular and Nigeria in general.
In 2015, Governor Rauf Aregbesola donated a piece of land measuring about 205.5 hectares to IITA as he sought to bring research closer to the people of the state with a view to creating transformational change in the agricultural sector of the state. The IITA accepted the offer with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding and began investment on the land with the development of roads and other infrastructure.
Governor Aregbesola said he was glad the MoU with IITA moved beyond paper to implementation. He commended IITA for its research efforts in the last 50 years, adding that the facility will advance research in Osun state with a spinoff effect on other parts of the country. “We believe that this research facility will train and empower our youth in modern agriculture
The inauguration of the research facility also allowed researchers to make presentations on new findings from cassava weed management, banana breeding and multiplication, cassava processing, and aflasafe—a technology for controlling aflatoxins among others.
There was a presentation of improved seeds of maize, cowpea, soybean, yam, plantain seedlings, and cassava stems for onward distribution to farmers in Osun state. IITA also gave the governor some quantities of Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS) bags which provide simple, low-cost method of reducing post-harvest cowpea losses due to insects’ infestations.
The state of Osun under Governor Aregbesola is the first state in Nigeria to key into the German contribution to the Fund for Agricultural Finance in Nigeria (FAFIN), which provides loans to small and medium entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector.
Osun is the first state in Nigeria to key into the establishment of an “Innovation Centre for the Agriculture and Food Sector” financed by the German Government in order to improve sustainable production and processing of food as well as entrepreneurial and vocational skills in agriculture and food processing.
The state is the first state in Nigeria to key into Germany-Nigeria agricultural cooperation in the establishment of a “Green Credit Line”, which shall improve the access of small and medium enterprises to funds in order to enable them to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Food security became a critical issue in Nigeria. The World Bank estimates that about 100 million people are facing deeper poverty due to higher food prices.
“Food security is a complex issue affected by a range of factors, including agricultural development and capacity, international trade flows, poverty and income distribution, foreign aid, as well as macroeconomic policies and government programmes on nutrition and food fortification.
Added to these are the impacts of global population growth and climate change. Both the public and private sectors will increasingly be called upon to mitigate risk from food security, in order to maintain a stable societal context conducive to development.
By Inwalomhe Donald
Inwalomhe Donald writes from Benin City, Edo State