Oyo State Governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde, has expressed the readiness of his government to partner and encourage investors in the agriculture sector in order to expand the economy of the state as well as surmount challenges facing their operations in the state.
The governor stated this during a visit to inspect the abandoned 10,000 metric-tons silo project embarked upon by the immediate past administration and the Ajila Value Adding Ventures Limited in Aawe.
In the governor’s entourage were the Chief of Staff, Chief Bisi Ilaka; the Head of Service, Alhaja Amidat Agboola; and the Executive Adviser to the Governor on Agribusiness, Dr. Debo Akande, among others.
Makinde, according to a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, while speaking at the Ajila Value Adding Farms, Aawe, where he was conducted round the poultry, hatchery, egg powder processing plant and palm trees plantation of the farms, described the facility as world-class.
The Governor, who was received by the Alaawe of Aawe, Oba Cornelius Abiola Taiwo; Chairman of Ajila Farms, Mr Philip Olutayo; Managing Director of the farm, Mr Dotun Odekeye; president of Bond Group of Companies, Chief Debo Omotoso, and a foremost poultry farmer, Chief Lai Amoje, expressed his joy at the developments he witnessed at the Ajila Farms.
He maintained that it was the intention of his government to encourage Ajila Farms and other investors in the agriculture sector by addressing their challenges and, where necessary, providing incentives to help them expand their operations so that they could provide employment for the teeming youths of the state.
“Just as we have said in our manifesto, we want to drive our economy through agriculture and agriculture value chain. Most of the things I have seen and heard here are music to my ears: they want to process eggshells into egg powder and export it; they want to generate foreign exchange for the state and that is consistent with our idea of expanding the economy.
“We will encourage them. Some of them may have challenges; security challenges, some of them may have challenges with access to the market. We will look at their challenges and make sure that we solve them. And we may even give incentives to some of them to expand their operations and employ our youths,” Governor Makinde said.
The governor, while speaking at the site of the abandoned silo project, expressed displeasure at the pace of work, which he noted should have been completed within 10 months, making it clear that his government was ready to explore all options to make sure the project is delivered so that farmers and the state could derive value from it.
“We have had court cases over the project, so we intend to solve all these challenges because the state has expended so much money on that project and we have not been able to get any value from it. So, if we will need to spend a little more to make sure that we derive value from it, we will do it.
“The case is in arbitration right now, but I will encourage the contractor to come to sit down with us so that we can explore options of out of court settlement. We are not arrogant about this thing. This is a project that should bring value to our farmers and to the economy of the state and that is what we set out to achieve”, he stressed.
Earlier, Phillips, chairman of the company, stated that the farm was focused on agriculture value chain and backward integration to provide direct and indirect employment for youths and other business concerns.
He maintained that the company was ready to partner with the Oyo State Government to boost agricultural development in the state, explaining that “our business is focused on agricultural value chain and backward integration, providing direct and indirect employment for youths, growing numerous other business concerns as the hub to ensure sustainable development and other indirect employment for our youths, vendors, suppliers, and contractors.”