No one is perfect, and every government certainly has its blind spots, but when you see a post ridiculing a well-thought-out policy, you begin to wonder if the policy critic is perhaps a paid hack. That was the feeling I got reading through the post of one Yinka Adesola.
I was shocked, to say the least, to read this rant by Yinka Adesola, who claims to be a “professional farmer, an agribusiness trainer and consultant. First off, wrong data. She stated that the Oyo State Government sent 2,000 youths to Nasarawa. No ma’am. The Oyo State Government trained 3,300 youths on technology-based agri-food systems at the CSS Integrated Farms at Gora, Nasarawa State.
Again, she said that the youths are still waiting to be empowered after a year. Perhaps, I will concede to her scoring half a point here. Yes, most of the trained youths are waiting for enterprise support. But, over 200 of these youths are already receiving enterprise support based on their training,while others are using their training to empower themselves. I am yet to meet a sane person who says training people is not a form of empowerment. Or are we giving the Oyo State Government knocks for giving young people knowledge?
Madam Yinka also claimed that the “selection was faulty” without bothering to find out the criteria for selecting the trained youths. Had she bothered to check, she would have found out that over 22,000 youths applied, out of which at first 100 were picked, but when Governor Seyi Makindelearnt that there were even more youths that were qualified, he increased the number of beneficiaries to 10,000, out of which over 3,000 have so far been trained.
She also claimed that no one in the Oke-Ogun area of Oyo State is among the beneficiaries. This is a blatant lie. All the 33 Local Government Areas in Oyo State have YEAP beneficiaries. If she had bothered to enquire from OYSADA’s Official social media accounts, they would have informed her that the 10 Local Government Areas in Oke-Ogun Zone produced over 700 beneficiaries.
Again, Madam Yinka asks how these youths will survive in agriculture if they have never been to a farm before. This statement further exposes her ignorance. OYSADA had profiled some of the YEAP beneficiaries who already owned farms before they went for the programme. Here is a video of them here
One of them even sold her tea at the last Oyo State Agribusiness Summit in 2021. Does Madam Yinka really know what she is talking about?
Madam Yinka then asks one of the most ridiculous questions in her entire write-up. “Why not hold the agricultural training in any of the LGA here? Most especially the agriculture-dominated area?” The answer is simple, CSS Farms where the youths were trained, is a technology-driven integrated agribusiness with all the facilities to train the youths in all agribusiness enterprises. Such a facility does not exist in Oyo State yet. A place that can be compared to it is the ShonghaiFarms in the Benin Republic. Does Madam Yinka think the youths were sent to fields in Nasarawa?
In case she didn’t know, Oyo State is now developing such a facility at the Oyo State-IITA Agribusiness Youth Incubation Park Centre in Aawe. If such a facility already existed in the state, the youths wouldn’t need to go to another state. In fact, one result of this training is the knowledge transfer that will occur as these youths continue to be onboarded and provided enterprise support.
Except we are trying to be dishonest, we would admit that government does not have unlimited funds. This is why the Oyo State Government is getting the private sector involved in agriculture. If it does not make business sense, and a business case cannot be made for it, then it’s not agribusiness. Does this need repeating?
Madam Yinka then talks about knowledge flight as if the trained youths all relocated from Oyo State. As noted, some of the youths trained at Nasarawa already have agribusinesses which they have developed further with the knowledge gained from their training. They went for training at Nasarawa and came back to Oyo State. Their knowledge returned with them. In fact, OYSADA is using 22 of them for knowledge transfer in the Oyo-CARES programme, where they will be working as extension workers with Oyo State farmers.
Maybe Madam Yinka has not heard of the Oyo-CARES project. It is a world-bank-assisted project through which farmers in Oyo State will be provided with inputs, assets, information and training. The idea was actually copied from Oyo State, following the successful COVID-19 intervention that the state ran. Over 9,000 real farmers in Oyo State were contacted and are presently in the OYSADA database.
Let me end this piece by addressing another ridiculous claim by Madam Yinka. She says the training would have better served rural farmers. This claim is laughable. Perhaps Madam Yinka lives on another continent, so she is unaware of the looming age-gap crisis threatening agriculture in Nigeria. She does not know that development partners have been working to ensure that more youths embrace agriculture. Oyo State has taken a forward-thinking approach towards agribusiness with two programmes. The Start Them Early Program (STEP) in Oyo State secondary schools in partnership with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the Youth Entrepreneurship in Agribusiness Project (YEAP). How could anyone in their right senses query this long-term approach?
Madam Yinka appears very confused. She has no idea what YEAP is about or the strategic thinking that went into creating the programme. This is why she could even claim that the youths will be empowered with money. No, ma’am, no YEAP beneficiary is going to be given money. What they were promised was enterprise support. Some YEAP beneficiaries were given enterprise support in the production of High-Quality Cassava Peel (HQCP). With machinery support fromthe International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and further training, they now produce feeds that they packaged and sold at the last Oyo State Agribusiness Summit. Their business is such that demand is greater than supply.
These youths are not being thrown into the wild to go and fend for themselves. As shown by the ongoing empowerment of 100 of the YEAP beneficiaries at the Fasola Agribusiness Industrial Hub last week (which she is also ridiculing because maybe ridiculing is her thing), OYSADA will continue to give these youths the technical support needed. What the youths got at Nasarawa, for those who have never been exposed to technology-driven food systems, is a foundation which further training and technical support will ensure that they use to the fullest.
In the final analysis, Madam Yinka’s conclusions are unfounded and lack substance through and through. She does not really care what the Oyo State Government is doing with agribusiness in the state, she is only on a pull-it-all-down vendetta. It also exposed the fact that although the internet is free, some people would rather maintain a myopic view of things than expose themselves to the information that is readily available to them.
This conversation also shows Madam Yinka’s strong bias against Governor Seyi Makinde. The Governor has done things differently. Every step taken regarding agribusiness strategy has shown a reliance on data, science and logic. The data shows that we have a large crop of ageing farmers and that if nothing is done about bridging the age gap, we will run into problems in the future. Therefore, Governor Makindesent 3,300 youths to go and get exposed to what agriculture of the future. This is a logical, science-driven step.
As shown above, these youths are already contributing and will further contribute to the growth of the Oyo State economy as the state gets more funding and gives more of these youths enterprise support. The rural farmers will benefit from knowledge transfer now through programs such as Oyo-CARES, which is presently ongoing. If you take an objective,honest look at the agribusiness strategy in Oyo State, you will give Governor Seyi Makinde his flowers because he deserves them.