By Peter Adeniyi
The Osun State firstlady and President of the IleriOluwa Development Initiative, Mrs. Kafayat Oyetola, has said that rising prices of foodstuffs are enough reasons for Nigerians to know that there is no better time than now to return to agriculture.
Mrs. Oyetola spoke on Tuesday at the IOD-Initiative’s distribution of seedlings and other agricultural items to support farmers, especially women at a programme tagged a presentation ceremony of the Second Phase of Women in Agriculture Scheme in Aisu-Ede, Osun State.
She said: “Prices of foodstuffs at the markets demand that we produce more food for our people. The situation has underscored the fact that there is no time better than now to return to the land. We must guarantee food security for our people.”
The firstlady, therefore, asked women to intensify their prayers to God on the issue of insecurity “because of its troubling challenge on farming.”
She said that though the state and the federal governments are making great efforts at containing the challenge, she said women should complement the efforts with prayers.
She said: “Also, we should enhance our vigilance at our various communities through active participation in the activities of the communities. When we do this, we shall be able to evolve effective strategy to rid our communities of security challenges.
“Let us renew the spirit of neighborliness that made our people great in the past. My fellow female farmers, I welcome and thank you for the steadfastness you have continued to put into the farming business despite the challenges.
“Your efforts have continued to contribute to the food chain in this State. Our intervention here today is to serve as catalyst for select women who are in great needs in their farming activities.
“The first phase comprised of assistance with vegetable seeds, training on effective handling of the seeds and a revolving loans program for farm preparation. This second phase has expanded envelope of inputs which include vegetables, cassava stems, cashew plants, cocoa, chicks and poultry feeds.
“Also, the training module has been retained. So, we have brought some experts here, who will speak to us on relevant latest methodology at handling some of the inputs to be given out today. The loan module has been discontinued because of the poor performance in terms of repayment.
“We hope to repackage it and refloat it soonest. I urge our beneficiaries to continue to take optimum advantage of this intervention.
“As many of you might have known, my only engagement, even now as the First Lady, is farming. I am one of you and this is why women-in-agriculture scheme is one of the key programs of our Foundation, the IleriOluwa Development Initiative.”
Speaking on the agricultural programme scheme, Mrs. Oyetola said it was designed to assist low-income female farmers periodically with necessary inputs that will enhance their productivity in the farms, increase their yields and ensure food security for their families.
According to her: “The first phase of this program was held in January of the year 2019. I am happy to report here that the beneficiaries in that phase reported back tremendous positive impact of the IOD-Agricultural scheme intervention.
“All efforts to have this second phase in 2020 were blighted by the unexpected explosion of the coronavirus pandemic across the globe.
The pandemic, as we all know, disrupted every aspect of life and development efforts. I thank God that finally the whole world and our State have been able to tame the surge. It is therefore gladdening that we are here again.
“We should however continue to exercise the appropriate non-pharmaceutical cautions in relation to the pandemic.
“The agricultural sector has always been the main pillar for the sustenance of humanity. Here in Nigeria, the current food situation has made this more of a need for us.”
Expressing gratitude to the state government under the leadership of Governor Adegboyega Oyetola for devoting attention to improving agricultural productions on all fronts in the state, she said more women are embracing farming, as vocation and profession.
In her words: “I want to thank Mr. Governor for the premium attention your administration has given to women and children development in this State. Our women shall continue to be proud of this administration.
“I also thank our development partners who have supported us massively for this program. I thank the management and staff of Access Bank Plc, management and staff of Sterling Bank Plc, the Management of Agrik Matas LTD.
“I also thank the State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Adedayo Adewole, for your words of advice and support. I welcome everyone present here. Thank you for your attention.”
In his remarks at the event, Governor Oyetola, who acknowledged the contribution of IOD-Initiative to socio-economic growth of the state, reiterated his administration’s commitment to welfare of people of people.