BusinessDay

Food security: Ondo urges agricultural loan defaulters to pay

....as women farmers charge government on improved IGR through agriculture

The Ondo state government has called on all agricultural loan defaulters across the 18 local government areas of the state to pay all their outstanding debts to give room for other farmers to benefit from the exercise.

The Commissioner for Agriculture and Forestry, Olayato Aribo, who made the call in Akure at the 2022 World Food Day Ceremony tagged: “Be a food hero and leave no one behind,” said if all outstanding debts were not paid, other farmers would not benefit in the next agricultural loans in the state.

Aribo, who was represented by the permanent secretary, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Edward Ogunmola, said, “I wish to give them up till December to pay up all outstanding loans in order not to incur the wrath of the law. The ministry’s door is open to farmers to access Technical and Advisory Services and farm inputs to boost their agricultural production.”

BusinessDay reports that this year’s 2022 World Food Day Ceremony in Ondo state was organised by the Justice Development and Peace Centre (JDPC) in collaboration with the Ondo state Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

The permanent secretary said: “Let me assure you that this government will continue to remain focused, responsive and accountable to the good people of our Sunshine state. We shall continue to create enabling environment that will ensure that every individual will contribute his/her quota to the rapid development of the state’s agricultural sector.

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“Therefore, the current food situation in the state and the country at large calls for more dedication and commitment to agricultural development so that our dream of self-sufficiency in food production could be realized,” Aribo said.

While the Smallholder Women Farmers Organisation of Nigeria (SWOFON), tasked the Ondo state government to take agriculture as business and trust that it can contribute to the revenue of the state.

The SWOFON coordinator in the state, Grace Oyediji said, “In the second quarter of this year, statistics show that agriculture contributed 23.2 percent, which is the highest to the economy of the country. This shows that with deliberate funding and strategic implementation with monitoring and evaluation of agriculture, farmers will be smiling to the bank, trajectory increase of the state’s IGR and food on the table of the people of Ondo state.

“We believe this is achievable through the effort of state and non-state actors with the backing of our dear governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu.

Oyediji, who also tasked the state government to concentrate efforts on dealing with post-harvest losses, said, “we will be better positioned to raise our Internally Generated Revenue and contribute significantly to the growth of the economy.”

According to her, “this can be achieved by encouraging smaller modular processing and storage facilities in communities based on different commodities. This should be a good approach to reducing our post-harvest losses, as the larger Staple Crops Agro Processing Zones (SCPZ) are most likely not to reach remote areas.”

She, therefore, tasked the state government to at least allocate 10 percent of the state budget to Agriculture saying “we understand that revenue for the state is dwindling, but the government needs to look into this”.