By Ola Ajayi & Adeola Badru
Oyo State Government has appealed to custodians of arable land across agrarian communities in the state to make them available to individuals and investors wishing to engage in large scale agricultural ventures.
The government said the appeal became necessary in view of the difficulties individuals and corporate organizations encounter in securing land for commercial cultivation, despite the availability of 2.5 million hectares of fertile land.
Addressing newsmen at the Governor’s Office, Ibadan, yesterday, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Development, Prince Oyewole Oyewumi, said the state had vast arable lands, most of which were idle.
He said that the Governor Abiola Ajimobi-led administration had begun a sensitization programme aimed at educating the people on the need to surrender such land for mechanized agriculture under mutually beneficial arrangements.
With oil, currently the nation’s cash cow, now under threat of diminishing value in the near future, he said that the government was determined to exploit the potential in the agric value chain to boost its economic revival.
The commissioner said that the initiative would enhance agriculture production, while the value chain would create job opportunities and promote food security.
Oyewumi said: “A committee was set up by the governor and it came up with an agriculture land policy to ensure the cultivation of idle arable land across the state. Land is a major asset for us in this state.
“So, it is important that they are made available and accessible for people who are willing to invest in agriculture under mutually beneficial arrangements. The policy is not aimed at forcibly taking over lands
“Land owned by communities and individuals can be made available to investors for productive purposes. Landowners are encouraged to use their lands with support from the government through the out-growers’ and off-takers’ scheme.’
“The scheme involves a collection or a group of farmers who work together to produce particular crops and farm produce and thereafter sell them off to another group of agric investors at the prevailing market price.
“Another scheme is for lands to be leased or rented out to prospective investors-farmers or farmers’ cooperatives. Both parties will mutually agree to the terms by deciding the duration of the lease and the type of crops to be cultivated.
“Outright sale of the land is another option. An agreement between a willing buyer and willing seller can be reached, but the government will not force anyone to sell off his or her land.
“Also, there is the option of payment of royalty, where farm produce is given to landowners in exchange for the use of the land for the agreed period. There is also the option of a partnership agreement between land owners and investors where the land could be used as equity by the land owner in a partnership arrangement with investors.”
The commissioner expressed optimism that the new policy would open up the communities to investors and boost the state’s economy.