Chinyere Anyanwu, [email protected]
To tackle Nigeria’s agricultural challenges and put the sector in good stead to lift the economic status of practitioners, stakeholders have advocated the establishment of agricultural parks across the country.
Agricultural parks, which are areas set aside specifically for agricultural activities and equipped with requisite infrastructure and facilities to encourage continuation or initiation of agricultural operations. They are supposed to be established by the government with the aim of modernising agriculture, helping to cut food importation, increase exports and creating jobs.
In such agricultural park, government makes land available, provides basic infrastructure and sells and/or leases the lands to farmers at reasonable costs or cause them to form cooperatives to enable them pool resources together for easy access to the facilities.
Globally, the agricultural sector of many countries thrive on such parks forming the basis for their economic development.
A stakeholder in the nation’s agricultural space and a strong advocate for the establishment of agricultural parks across the country, the Chief Executive of Ogun State-based Ope Farms, Olusola Sowemimo, emphasised the need for every farming hub to have such parks.
In a recent chat with Daily Sun, Sowemimo said, “I am an advocate of agricultural parks. We need that kind of thing at least in every hub where you have farms. Where I farm, for instance, there are a lot of farmers there yet we don’t even know each other.”
She noted that, “it is time for us to have those parks I’m talking about. My own dream is that apart from the park having things like tractors, you can go there, maybe you’re just starting and you don’t have enough money, you can go there, rent all the equipment you need for one day, pay a little token, and return them at the end of the day.
“Apart from that, I’m also thinking of machines and equipment being brought in for large scale farming. There can even be cold room for storage. Most farms don’t have electricity, they don’t have good roads, neither do they have the means to transport these goods to people who will buy them.”
Another stakeholder, Dr. Victor Iyama, the President of the Federation of Agricultural Commodities Association of Nigeria (FACAN), who spoke with Daily Sun on the importance of agricultural parks to the sector and the economy, agreed it is a laudable venture but expressed concern over its workability in Nigeria given its peculiar challenges.
Iyama was of the opinion that, “if they do it, its a plus. It has its advantages. The park is meant to provide special amenities and in countries where they practice it, it works well. It’s a good thing if we do it rightly and not cut corners. Basically, it will grow the sector and bring in more money; it will be easier for us to process and export our produce and it will be easier for us to convince more people to go into that sector.”