Osun and Sachsen-Anhalt: Lessons from the Osun- Germany Agricultural Cooperation, By Inwalomhe Donald
Let me start by explaining that the State of Osun -Sachsen-Anhalt agricultural cooperation is a platform to tackle agricultural challenges and increase the potentials and viability of agri-business in Nigeria, starting with Osun State.
This cooperation is to help synergize on technologies, techniques and human resources in Osun.
Now, The State of Osun under Governor Aregbesola is the first state in Nigeria to key into the German contribution to the Fund for Agricultural Finance in Nigeria (FAFIN), which provides loans to small and medium entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector.
The State of Osun under Governor Aregbesola is the first state in Nigeria to key into the establishment of an “Innovation Centre for the Agriculture and Food Sector” financed by the German Government in order to improve sustainable production and processing of food as well as entrepreneurial and vocational skills in agriculture and food processing.
The State of Osun under Governor Aregbesola is the first state in Nigeria to key into Germany-Nigeria agricultural cooperation in the establishment of a “Green Credit Line”, which shall improve the access of small and medium enterprises to funds in order to enable them to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Recall Aregbesola led a delegation to Germany a while back, in search of new insights on modern agriculture to further realise the dream of making Osun the food basket of the South-West. The true story now is that the governor, within the space of time did not only employ over 20,000 youths of the state in agribusiness but is currently on a mission to revolutionize farming and empower the people to kick out poverty. Thus, the rationalization of poverty on paucity of fund has now been exposed as a product of misapplication of resources.
The State of Osun’s recent attempts to encourage investment are prompting some foreign firms and Nigerian entrepreneurs to look more closely at the profitability of agribusiness. Perhaps more important in the long term, there also appears to have been a significant shift in the pattern of foreign involvement, back to direct investment in agriculture in Osun State.
The Agro-investment initiative of Governor Aregbesola is an emblem of hope that will make the youths in the state embrace agriculture again; this move will also create massive employment opportunities for Osun people. Sachsen-Anhalt involvement in Osun State agriculture is undoubtedly accelerating. The climate for foreign investment is becoming more amenable as the Nigerian economy is restructured under the watchful eye of the IMF, World Bank and international banks despite the lack of a formal agreement.
When the Governor and his formidable team went to Germany in search of knowledge, and in furtherance of the development cooperation and in support of the Osun Rural Enterprise and Agriculture Programme (O-REAP), the trip was an opportunity for the delegation to:
i. Attend the International Green Week programme with Governor Rauf Aregbesola as the Special Guest of Honour. Dr. Reiner Haseloff, the Minister President of Sachsen Anhalt; Prof. Claudia Dalbert, the State Minister of Agriculture and Dr. Hermann OnkoAeikens, State Secretary, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Federal Republic of Germany, all attended the programme, met and engaged relevant investors and partners with interests in agricultural investment and partnership opportunities in the State of Osun
ii. Review and expand on the scope of existing Development Cooperation between the State of Osun and Sachsen Anhalt
iii. Design the next phase of collaborative partnerships between the State of Osun and Sachsen Anhalt
iv. Meet and discuss agricultural potentials, investment and partnership opportunities in Osun with German farmers who had hosted 40 young farmers from Osun over a period of four years, starting in 2012 as they were exposed to knowledge, skills and technologies in practical modern agriculture. The Osun delegation also met with the umbrella Farmers Association of the State of Sachsen Anhalt. At the meeting, a number of farmers in Germany expressed their interest in the proposed farmer technology transfer programme that is being planned in collaboration with the State Government of Sachsen Anhalt.
v. Discuss the planned cooperation between the State Governments of Osun and Sachsen-Anhalt in setting up of ‘Best Practice Demonstration, Training and Production Farm’ in the State of Osun. The Farm is to target the youth and other farmers and will provide the platform for the acquisition of knowledge, skills and techniques in modern agriculture with a focus on land development and management, new technologies in crops, livestock, fisheries, post-harvest handling, processing and packaging.
The establishment of the Best Practice Demonstration, Training and Production Farm’ in the State of Osun will build on these initial efforts and create an even more cost-effective and sustainable model of cooperation that will allow for broader scale impact. This will allow the State of Osun to extend benefits to many hundreds of equally motivated and needy young farmers who would not have the opportunity of being attached to host farmers or institutions in Germany.
The Best Practice Demonstration, Training and Production Farm is to serve as a veritable platform to anchor a well-designed farmer exchange programme that will provide the opportunity for German agricultural experts and farmers to provide technological transfer and capacity building to farmers in Osun.
This new collaboration is building on the initial outcomes of the cooperation with the State of Sachsen-Anhalt under which 40 budding young farmers from Osun have been hosted in Germany for advanced practical training in different aspects of agriculture over the past four years with the resultant engaging opportunities for young farmers in our state as they launch promising careers in modern and productive agriculture inspired by their exposure in Sachsen-Anhalt.
The 40 young farmers who were involved in the development cooperation programme in Germany are back in Osun and are now involved in different aspects of agriculture including cattle and production of small ruminant, piggery, horticulture and greenhouse farming in different parts of the State.
Other highlights of the trip included planning meetings between the Osun delegation with top officials of the Ministry of Agriculture of the State of Sachsen Anhalt and members of the State of Sachsen-Anhalt Parliament. These meetings were aimed at consolidating as well as expanding the current cooperation between both parties.
Notably and following on the heels of the impressive outcomes recorded from the cooperation with the State of Sachsen Anhalt in the last four years in the area of agriculture, the cooperation is now being expanded to the area of healthcare delivery. Presently, there’s a team of seasoned German oncologists from the Institute for Operative Medicine of the Otto-yon Guericke-University, Magdeburg, Germany, in Osun. This is to perfect plans on collaborative efforts on control, treatment and management of various classes of cancer in the State.
The State of Osun’s agricultural programme is gradually yielding desired results as the good people of the state are being empowered through land preparation and free distribution, credits for improved seedlings, fertilizer, etc. and commercial production of honey, fish, cattle and birds. The O’honey apiary project that the Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola embarked upon became a reality when it was commissioned at Oyan in Odo-Otin local government, the first of its kind in Black Africa.
It was this vision that made the government of Ogbeni Aregbesola to partner with the German government that sent a seven-man team of experts drawn from the agric sector of the State of Saxson Anhalt to meet with farmers’ cooperatives, soil scientists, animal husbandry experts and others on how to improve agricultural products in Osun.
Inwalomhe Donald, public affairs analyst writes from Benin City, Edo State. He is available via firstname.lastname@example.org