By Ibukun Emiola
The Federal Government says it has commenced training and empowerment of 150 agricultural cooperative societies in Oyo State as part of efforts to enhance food security and improved export earnings in the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 2022 Agribusiness Development and Empowerment Programme (ADEP) training, under the National Agripreneurship Training Scheme (NATS), was held in Ibadan on Tuesday.
NAN also reports that the training was organised by Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN).
In his address, Director-General, SMEDAN, Mr Olawale Fasanya, said that the programme was to provide knowledge and skills to start-ups and existing value-chain cooperative societies as well as commodity associations in the country.
Fasanya, who was represented by the South-West Zonal Coordinator of SMEDAN, Mr Kayode Shode, said that the training and empowerment would reinforce agricultural transformation for food security and improve agricultural export earnings.
He said that 15 states would benefit from the training, with 225 agricultural value-chain cooperative societies and agricultural commodity associations, comprising 2,250 members, to be empowered with equipment and given technical support.
“The share of agriculture in Nigeria’s total export earnings remains small compared with crude oil exports. For instance, in 2019, agriculture accounted for less than two per cent of total exports, relative to crude with 176.5 per cent.
“Nigeria’s major agricultural imports include: wheat, sugar, fish and milk, while the main agricultural exports include: sesame seeds, cashew nuts, cocoa beans, ginger, frozen shrimps and cotton.
“The programme is to integrate entrepreneurial skills and knowledge into modern agricultural practices to produce agripreneurs and workforce that will cater for agricultural enterprises in Nigeria and beyond.
“This will bring about sustainable food security, employment generation and poverty reduction,” Fasanya said.
In his remarks, the Executive Adviser to Gov. Seyi Makinde, Dr Debo Akande, said that the programme was in line with the objective of the state, geared toward driving economic growth through agripreneurs.
“We will find a way of aligning them with the cooperatives in the state, to ensure that they benefit from all that the state is doing currently to strengthen the private sector at different layers,” Akande said.
He said that the ‘Oyo Care’ project, supported by World Bank, had provided financial support to some private companies affected by COVID-19, adding that same would apply to the agricultural sector for profiled farmers.
President, Oyo State Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Chief Wole Akinwande, stressed the importance of belonging to government-recognised associations.
“We have the links to which we can connect them. If they apply anywhere for loans, we can give them some backing, after ascertaining their seriousness and integrity,” he said.
One of the beneficiaries, Mr Adesayo Oduyemi, of Kosobo-Oyo Helen Genius Multipurpose Farmers’ Cooperative Limited, appreciated government for organising the programme, saying that it would expand their businesses knowledge and opportunities.
NAN reports that the 150 cooperative societies will also receive 15 dryers, one for each cooperative society, air-dryers for farmers and heat-dryers for processors who are into value-chain addition. (NAN)