Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti
The Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, has, as part of his administration’s effort at reviving agriculture and fattening the state’s lean food basket, said Ekiti has the capacity to feed the South-West region and the country at large when the agricultural potentials of the state are fully harnessed with the activation of all its plans.
The governor stated this at a stakeholders’ sensitisation meeting on Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP), in Ado-Ekiti on Friday. He said Ekiti, being an agrarian state, has been grossly underutilised by residents who are predominantly farmers, hence, the determination of his administration to construct 1,000 km rural roads from farms to markets across the state.
To actualise the 1,000 km rural road construction, the governor said his administration has partnered with the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank and French Development Agency for the construction and rehabilitation of major rural roads and river crossings in the state. The development partners, the governor said, would also assist the state in the establishment and rehabilitation of agro-logistics hubs.
Fayemi said the rural roads would not only connect farms to cities but would further enhance the surplus and availability of farm produce in markets.
He revealed that the projects would be carried out in phases “based on the level of agricultural produce and economic activities along the corridor of each road and not on equality of local government areas or towns” as directed by the World Bank, adding that some of the rural roads would link up with some major roads flagged off for reconstruction early this year.
The governor said he was optimistic the rural roads when constructed would boost agricultural productivity and reduce post-harvest wastages of farm produce, adding that it would also encourage agro-allied industries and create job opportunities for the teeming number of youths in the state.
Restating his commitment to lifting Ekiti people out of poverty by empowering farmers and entrepreneurs in the agricultural value chain, the governor said: “The vision of this government is to grow agri-business and open farms up to markets. This is why we have decided to embark on the construction of 1000km of rural roads to enhance agri-business in our dear state.
“Another Initiative of the government is the programme we called Youth in Commercial Agriculture Development (YCAD). The Initiative is to encourage Ekiti youths to engage in mechanised farming with the aim of feeding the state as well as transporting to other states of the federation and in turn revamp the economy of the state.
“As a government, we are determined and remained committed to the development of Ekiti State, despite the meagre resources available. We shall continue to pursue our lofty goals of making life more meaningful for the people within the ambit of our resources.”
Fayemi said part of the vision of his administration is to make life in rural areas as convenient urban areas, assuring that they would be developed in such a way that it would dissuade and deter rural-urban migration which, he claims, has affected the agricultural practice.
The governor advised stakeholders at the meeting to sensitise members of their communities on the project. “I urge you to go to your various communities and farmsteads to sensitise your people particularly the youths to cooperate with the State Project Implementation Unit (SPIU), contractors and construction workers that will be moving to sites any moment from now. The project should be applauded by all and sundry rather than generating crisis among our people,” he said.
Earlier, the National Coordinator of RAAMP, Engr Uban Doma Ularamu, in his address called the on the communities to take possession of the projects that would be executed in their communities. “See it as your project, own it, and support it where necessary in order for us to achieve our dream of a better society,” he added
The Project Coordinator, who was represented by a national official, Mrs Salamotu Jibaniya, noted that the traditional leaders in each of the community are the eyes of the government and would serve as the touch-bearers, owners and guard of the project.
The National Coordinator promised compensation for those whose prosperity would be affected by the project and also warned against the engagement of child labour and gender-based violence during the execution of the project.
RAAMP State Project Coordinator Mr Sunday Adunmo said the project is intended to construct rural roads, farm footpaths and river crossings across the 16 local government areas of the state.
Adunmo listed the objectives of the project to include: provision of reliable rural access and cost-efficient transportation services that will facilitate the delivery of agricultural inputs, employment for the youths, support for agro logistics intervention that would reduce post-harvest losses and increase the price of agricultural livestock.
The State Project Coordinator took the time to sensitise the gathering about the environmental, social and health impacts of the project. He also shed light on mitigation measures that would be put in place during the execution of the project.
Stakeholders at the event included traditional rulers and representatives across the sixteen local government areas of the state.