The Abeokuta Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ABEOCCIMA) on Thursday insisted that agricultural revolution is the only solution for Nigeria to survive the post COVID-19 economic crisis in Nigeria.
The new President of ABEOCCIMA, Mr. Jare Oyesola who spoke during the inauguration of the new Executive and the 44th Annual General meeting of the Chamber in Abeokuta, the State capital, therefore, urged Nigerians to embrace agriculture for the country to attain self sufficiency in food production.
He appealed to the Ogun State government to devolve power to the Local governments to issue Certificate of Occupancy (CofO) to people for agricultural use.
Oyesola attributed the low agricultural production in the State to the current land use act regine which empowers only the State government to issue Certificate of Occupancy (CofOs) to land owners.
According to him, many farmers do not have access to credit facilities from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other banks because they do not have CofOs to access loan.
His words, “The challenge we have with agriculture is land. It is easier to get land in the North than in the Southwest. What I’m advocating is that just like the land use decree of 1978 have stated, Local governments should be able to give land for agricultural development.
“We know ourselves in our local governments, we know the cooperatives in our local governments, let local governments be able to give a CofO.
“Let the government devolve the power from State to local governments. Let the local governments be able to give us CofO as stated in the land use decree and private sector will move forward.
“My experience was that even Central Bank Nigeria (CBN) and international companies will recognise a CofO issued by a local government and they will give you loan because it shows evidence that you are authorised to til that land that is the challenge that cooperatives 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 CofOs, if they have CofOs, they will be able to access to 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 agricultural credit if you don’t have a CofO.
He stressed the need for proper policy evaluation and implementation needed to face the challenges caused by the outbreak Coronavirus pandemic, saying “this is a period where it will be difficult for us to expect much from government as the low oil prices and the lockdown internationally and locally have left governance with nothing more than loans to run.”
In her submission, the Chairman of the Chamber’s Board of Trustees, Mrs. Alaba Lawson, called for a massive investment in agriculture for Nigeria to survive the economic crisis caused by the outbreak of COVID-19.
Lawson insisted “Agriculture is what we need now in Nigeria. Before the discovery of oil, our forefathers developed this country with the proceeds of agricultural production. 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 coca and groundnuts. God has endowed every Local government with one resources or the other.
She appealed to the State government to partner the Chamber to achieve the desired change in the economy of the State, saying, “Agriculture and mining are the bones to move our economy forward.”