Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, has vowed to make the state a leading agrarian state that would become the food basket for the Southern Nigeria.
Aregbesola made this declaration at the presentation of 2013 budget in Osogbo, a copy, which was made available to THISDAY.
While Lagos State and other western and Southern states of Nigeria spend billions of naira on food stuffs, most of the food stuffs are transported from the Northern part of the country.
But Aregbesola noted that as an agrarian state, his administration would ensure that Osun State was transformed to meet the food needs of Lagos State and its environs by having a well-developed agriculture and transportation sectors.
According to him, 2013 budget, about N183.11billion, was anchored on a complete turnaround of agriculture, in order to improve the welfare of the people and the economy of the state.
Speaking specifically on agriculture and rural development, Aregbesola said that Osun State, being an agrarian economy with arable fertile soil, could only move forward positively by revolutionising its agriculture.
"Agriculture will not only provide employment for our teeming masses, it will also encourage rapid agro-allied industrialisation of the state, generation of income and improved welfare of the citizenry. As spelt out in our Six-Point Integral Action Plan, our intention is to make agriculture profitable, attractive as a good venture as well as making food available in the State with spill-over effects to other states of the Federation," he said.
Aregbesola explained that as part of efforts to tackle hunger, 150 hectares of virgin farm land were cleared and allocated to 30 prospective farmers in Akinleye, Iwo farm settlement and Mokore cooperative farm at Ago-Owu under the aegis of Osun Rural Enterprise and Agriculture programme (O-REAP), noting that "In our efforts to boost food production, O'REAP Youth Academy was established. The programme, as conceptualised, aims at producing modern day farmers equipped with modern technologies in agriculture thereby ensuring food supply on a sustainable basis."
He said N8.116 billion had been provided in the 2013 budget to fund various projects in the sector, saying that those projects had assisted rural communities in the provision of infrastructural facilities such as access roads, cold rooms as well as productive assets like tools, agro-processing equipment, livestock and fisheries facilities.