A Group of Agripreneurs under the aegis of Abeokuta Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ABEOCCIMA) has asked Administrators in local government councils domiciled in Ogun state to invoke the provisions of the Land Use Act 1978 to allocate land for agricultural purposes.
This request became imperative going by the bureaucratic bottlenecks that impede smooth investments in agribusiness and agriculture, especially as regards inhibited access to land and land allocations for which ABEOCCIMA advocated that some sections of Land Use Act 1978 empowers local government chairmen to grant rights of customary occupancy for the land to be used for agricultural purposes.
Speaking in Abeokuta at the inauguration of new Executive Council of ABEOCCIMA at the 44th Annual General Meeting, Jare Oyesola, the newly sworn-in President of ABEOCCIMA, declared that the devolution of power to allocate non-urban land for agricultural purposes as required by the Land Use Act 1978 was the missing link to robust investments in agribusiness and proper agricultural practice in Nigeria, and Ogun state in particular.
Oyesola, who attributed the low agricultural production in the State to the current Land Use Act Regime which allows interference of State Government to the allocation of non-urban land for agricultural purposes, disclosed that many farmers do not have access to credit facilities from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other banks because they do not have Certificate of Occupancy to access loan.
He however canvassed for an agricultural revolution, saying Nigerians must embrace agriculture for the country to overcome the economic challenges facing her at present, saying: “The challenge, we have with agriculture is land. It is easier to get land in the North than in the Southwest.
“What I am advocating is that just like the Land Use Act of 1978 that I have stated, Local Governments should be able to give land for agricultural development. We know ourselves in our Local Governments, we know the Co-operatives in our Local Governments, let Local Governments be able to give a C of O.
“Let the Government devolve the power from State to Local Governments. Let the Local Governments be able to give us C of O as stated in the Land Use Act and private sector will move forward.
“My experience was that even Central Bank Nigeria (CBN) and international companies will recognise a C of O issued by a Local Government and they will give you loan because it shows evidence that you are authorised to that land, that is the challenge that Co-operatives we are having.
“CBN in Abeokuta is saying that they don’t utilise the money that was given to them by the Federal Government, most of the reasons for this is that many farmers don’t have C of Os, if they have C of Os, they will be able to access agricultural value chain development.
“We need large-scale farming so that we will not continue to depend on food importation. We must think of giving people access to land for farming on a large-scale because there is money available that we can get to do this business, but no bank will grant agricultural credits if you don’t have a C of O.
Also, the Chairman of the Chamber’s Board of Trustees, Alaba Lawson, advocated due investments in agriculture for Nigeria to survive the economic crisis caused by the outbreak of COVID-19.
Lawson insisted that “Agriculture is what we need now in Nigeria. Before the discovery of oil, our forefathers developed this country with the proceeds of agricultural produce. Let us go back to Agriculture, let us find the missing link.
“We need to go back to agriculture. We need to go back to days of the pyramids of cocoa and groundnuts. God has endowed every Local Government with one resource or the other.