By Tim Amosun
It was a thing of joy when a World Bank project named and addressed as Oyo North Agricultural Development Programme (ONADEP) was brought to the enclave. The development project started well and it brought rewarding encouragement to many farmers especially with the provisions of extension services which was previously lacked.
Over the years, I have studied the establishment, the development and the contributions of ONADEP with its operational headquarters at Saki as the government main effort to promote the food security in Oyo State. It was a worthwhile project because Oke Ogun had the resources, both human and material, to support the project.
Siting the headquarter of ONADEP in Saki was equally a good decision because Saki and all the towns and villages in the 10 Local Government Areas that make up Oke Ogun region have sufficient farmlands for businesss to achieve food supplies, job creation, socio-economic development and many others.
Before the world-bank assisted project’s name was later replaced with Oyo State Agricultural Development Programme (OYSADEP), it was initially called Oyo North Agricultural Development (ONADEP). During the time of ONADEP, the establishment experienced what I can summarily describe as peak performance and the outputs were commendable and monumentally impactful. The impacts were felt all over the region and beyond it. Jobs were created, many feeder roads were opened up for farmers to transport their goods to the towns en route the cities, sport activities were highly enhanced, rural community road construction with good drainages were constructed. These were some of the projects that ONADEP embarked upon which boosted the development of Òkèògùn region. It is in my perspective that if it had continued, only God knows what would have happened in terms of infrastructural development by now.
However, in my study, I took notice that when ONADEP became transformed into OYSADEP and the operational office shifted to Ibadan, the situation began to dwindle. There were sharp reductions in food production activities compared to the experience during the time of ONADEP Android other developmental projects mentioned above suddenly stopped since then.
No doubt, constraints such as lack of access to credits, inadequate land availability, large scale poverty, infertility of soil and lack of non-farm income generating activities ensued. Furthermore, lack of sufficient storage facility and processing problems were identified as some of the factors militating against the achievement of food security in our State.
About few months ago, Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency (OYSADA) has been introduced to replace OYSADEP. The renovated properties of the Agency at Saki has been picked to be used as the headquarters. I reliably gathered that, before the final approval was given, the process passed through the first reading, the second reading and there was public hearing.
Presently, the workers of OYSADEP have been scattered into different ministries while few staffs are retained to work under the present Agribusiness programme. Young graduates who intend to go into farming targed Start Them Early Programme (STEP) have just been interviewed. The Junior staffs of OYSADEP working in various farm locations in Oke Ogun, especially Shaki, have been transferred to Ibadan where they should start a new life with their meagre incomes.
Now, with all these in place, few questions deserves justifiable answers. Perhaps I should put it that I need to be updated on the issue that is bothering my mind on the subject matter. Why should we increase the number of the Oyo State workers to be occupying offices? Why can’t we send these government workers to the areas of their exact relevance? Does Oke Ogun that sufficient land for Agribusiness programme relevant again? How many of the Oyo State Government large enterprises do we still have in Okeogun?
In my thinking, rather than repealing OYSADEP, I think it would have been advisable to retain it, return the base to Shaki and establish OYSADA alongside with the former in order to boost food production in Oyo State and therefore create a platform for the development of Okeogun that is laying the golden eggs to show case it’s potentials in agricultural practices.
In addition to all these, It is also important to mention that all the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have ADP except Oyo state. This is something that our political leaders, those serving in government such as our senators, honourables and our respected elders in Oke Ogun should look into and do something about it. What is good for the goose is also good for the gander is a popular saying that will always promote equality in our country. It is good we can stick to the wise saying for the sake of the growth and development of democracy in our land.
In case there are contrary views to this submission, I am eager and ready to learn and advocate for the strategies towards achieving successes for the project.
Tim Amosun is a PhD candidate in the University of Ibadan and the Managing Director of PradMarCom Consultants Ltd, Lagos Nigeria