To drive economic growth through agriculture, the Edo State Government has cleared about 2600 hectares of land across the state in preparation for the next planting season.
Special Adviser to the Edo State Governor on Agriculture and Food Security Programme, Joe Okojie, disclosed this in a chat with journalists in Benin City, noting that the state government is embarking on a number of initiatives to support farmers and attract more investments in agribusiness.
The land clearing exercise, he said, was part of efforts to support agribusinesses and provide them with extension services necessary to make farming less cumbersome. He added that it was necessary to embark on the exercise because land clearing is considered by most farmers as expensive.
According to him, “over 1400 hectares of land has been cleared in Edo North. In Edo South, we have cleared 600 hectares same as in Ekpoma.”
Other efforts being put in place by the state government for the next planting season, according to him, include production of fertiliser; setting up initiatives to avoid clashes between farmers and herdsmen and ensuring supply of pesticides, improved seedlings and farming implements to farmers.
He said, “governor Obaseki is committed to providing everyone with the necessary support to fast-track mechanised and commercial farming, which also includes the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme.”
He said the state government was very keen on achieving economic growth through agriculture, which explains the commitment to make farming less risky for farmers.
“The governor believes agriculture is a sure means to create wealth and employment for the people. That is why the state government hired companies for the land clearing, which is obviously one of the most expensive and critical aspects of agriculture,” he said.
He noted that the state government has set up a scheme to engage some of the returnees from Libya in its agricultural programme.
He said, “Some of the returnees from Libya have completed training at the state’s Agricultural Development Programme. The government has allocated land to them to cultivate. We will assist them with funds and access to markets.”
On agro-processing, Okojie said, “the Benin Industrial Park was designed to include a section for agro-processing. This will take care of the entire value chain to process what has been cultivated in the state.”