In line with its diversification programme and part of efforts to make Osun state the food basket of the West, the Osun State Government has embarked on all year round farming through massive irrigation system.
The initiative was aimed at fulfilling one of the six-point integral action plan of the present administration, which is to banish hunger through massive agricultural production.
The new farming system, an initiative of the volunteers of the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES), encompassed solar-powered irrigation to encourage all round farming across the seasons.
While inspecting one of the 40 acres of the already cultivated farm land at Ilesa, during the first harvest of the hybrid cucumber cultivated by the OYES cadets, Aregbesola said that the decision was to make the state to be self-sustaining and self-sufficient in food production as well make Osun the food basket of Western Nigeria.
He said the initiative was aimed at fighting the scourge of irregular farming by encouraging modern agriculture practices through irrigation system.
According to Aregbesola, agriculture is where the future lies, thus it is high time for all to engaged in massive agriculture production as panacea to hunger.
Aregbesola, who expressed delight over the commitment showed by the OYES cadets, said the state has turned a new leaf in agriculture practices.
He added: “I am very impressed with this high level of seriousness being put in place by our OYES volunteers. It shows that our state is not only committed to infrastructure, but also human development.
“With this giant stride in agriculture, it is not a doubt that Osun can boast of all round cultivation of major commodities like sweet potatoes, cucumbers, and exotic vegetables.
“As we have this farm in Ilesa, we also have similar ones in 24 Local governments across the state. This is aimed at fulfilling our commitment at banishing hunger, poverty and unemployment, as the scheme wouldn’t only encourage irrigation farming system but also build confidence in the youths towards agriculture.
“As we all know, food and shelter are too essential for the survival of humanity and no serious government will trivialise the need to encourage agriculture, particularly at a time when the value of crude oil is progressively sliding into zero.
“It has been brought into public knowledge that in the next 20 years, it will be practically impossible to import food, not because there won’t be money to do so, but there won’t be food to import.
“So, to prevent this unforeseen circumstantial uncertainty, then it is time to go into massive food production capable of making us self-sufficient and as well encouraging surplus for export.”
The governor added: “We must do whatever we can to sustain ourselves in food production because a time is coming when a nation like Nigeria will be left with no other option than agriculture.
“Our major economic product, crude oil, will soon become unpopular as it is evident that in the next 25 years, there will no longer be a serious automobile company that will be producing petroleum-powered vehicles.
“The major buyers of Nigeria’s crude oil have declared that by 2030, petroleum-powered automobiles will no longer be produced and what this implies is that, petroleum will become an ordinary commodity, and not a money making commodity as we have it now.
“If this is the case, then we must all go back to farm and see the need to feed ourselves as a nation and produce agriculture produce in surplus for export.”
Aregbesola urged the youths to demonstrate the passion for farming, instead of chasing non-existent white collar jobs.
Earlier in his remarks, the OYES Commandant, Colonel Eni’Ibukun Oyewole (rtd), commended Aregbesola for being aggressive at revamping the agriculture sector in the state.
Oyewole said the state government of Osun under Aregbesola’s watch has democratised governance as evident in the success recorded through the series of his life-changing schemes, in which OYES is pivotal.
OYES Commandante said the idea to develop capacity for all year-round farming practice through irrigation system was to meet up with the state’s policy at taking agriculture to enviable height.
He said the initiative will not only aid the mass production of indigenous crops but also attract youths into farming, saying “agriculture remains the panacea to dwindling crude oil revenue and economic recession”.
“We have every reason to thank Governor Aregbesola for taking our youths off the streets for better productivity. It is on record today that Osun is the role model in youth empowerment and social protection programmes among others.
“On youth empowerment alone, the state has engaged over 40,000 unemployed youths into different social services, and today, majority of them are in different organizations as Managers, Managing Directors, Chief Executive Officers, as so on.
“This is a glad thing to know because the current administration in the state has painstakingly and productively harnessed the youths potentials for greater development.
“Today, Osun is one of the states with the lowest index of unemployed youth, and as a matter of fact, this is a result of thousands of youths being engaged by the state in various public services.
“It is obvious that Governor Aregbesola has done excellently well by touching the lives of youths positively in the state and Nigeria at large through his youth-oriented programmes that had been replicated by the federal government and other nations of the world.
“To us, OYES is a life-changing scheme. Most of the government’s strategic policies have in one way or the other been brought into action through the efforts of the volunteers.
“And as for this new farming technique, thousands of the OYES cadets who are interested in farming are the brain behind it. They have contributed immensely to ensure that farming is revamped.
“The aim of this initiative is to ensure that Osun is free from hunger. We want to turn this state to a central point and hub of agricultural produce in the West.
“The idea of all year round cultivation will therefore go a long way at helping the state to meet the desires of farmers as our farm will be powered by solar energy to enhance irrigation system”, he added.
In their separate remarks, the Commissioner for Empowerment and Youth Engagement, Mrs. Folake Adegboyega, Chairman OYES Management Committee, Barrister Femi Faturoti and the Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, Obafemi Awolowo University, Professor Oyedele Durodoluwa, commended Aregbesola for taking the lead among his peers in agriculture sector.