Professor of Agriculture and chairperson of the last day session of the South-west Grassroots Business Forum EXPO 2013, Prof. Tomi Adekanye, has expressed hope that the regional integration agenda would soon reproduce the good legacies of the old Western region under the leadership of Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
Speaking on Friday at the Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding in Osogbo, Osun State, she predicted that the agenda would achieve far more for the region than could ever be imagined because of the advantage of economy of scale inherent in it.
She highlighted the difference between concepts of growth and development as canvassed by the political leadership to explain the results of the activities, policies and programmes.
Adekanye, who said development is sustained growth evenly spread and experienced by all and not just for a few people, noted that challenges in development are attributable to irresponsible leadership, social and food insecurity and many other self imposed environmental problems. The don challenged the governments to invest more in agriculture because of its central position to the economy of any society that wants to advance.
The EXPO, sponsored by Ekiti, Osun, Oyo, Ogun and Lagos State Governments, in collaboration with Vintage Press Limited (Publishers of The Nation Newspaper) in partnership with CEEDEE Resources, ended Friday with participants issuing a 17-point resolution which harped on restructuring the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the basis of regional blocs that will also double as new federating units.
The resolution said the target of deliberations at the EXPO 2013 was the eradication of poverty through productive federalism that ensures development and guarantees mass prosperity. Adekanye highlighted the difference between concepts of growth and development as canvassed by the political leadership to explain the results of the activities, policies and programmes.
"We all agree that 70 percent of the country's population is agrarian. So, we must pay a serious attention to the sector; invest in it to get more money. We should not be concerned with taxation alone and not fund food production to avoid re-occurence of the Agbekoya uprising.
"We should also ask ourselves how effective our agricultural extension services are. Agriculture is capital intensive. All our rural areas should be opened up and made attractive to our people, particularly the youths, by making infrastructure available," she said.
At the Friday session, all the Commissioners of Agriculture of the participating states made contributions to the theme of the EXPO: "Actualising Economic Development for Regional Growth."