Open Day: Awe monarch lauds IITA, OYSG over community transformation through agriculture


The Alaawe of Awe, Oba Cornelius Abiola Taiwo has applauded the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the Oyo state government for the uncommon development they brought to bear in the community through agriculture.

Oba Taiwo gave this commendation during his remarks at the open day organized by the Empowering Novel Agribusiness Led Employment, one of the compacts of Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (ENABLE-TAAT) funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and implemented by IITA through its Youth in Agribusiness office (IYA) at Oyo State-IITA Youth Agribusiness Park Centre, Awe on Tuesday.

The monarch who was represented at the event by one of his chiefs, Chief Apostle Samuel Taiwo Oladipo emphasized that farming brought into their community by IITA was a pointer to the fact that Awe was transforming such that “we have to change the name over time to Awerica as some people might have known.”

“With this laudable programme on ground, we believe that things are now taking shape and by the grace of God, everything will work accordingly. We appreciate everything that you are doing here and honestly, we are pleased with the state government, we are pleased with the Ministry of Agriculture, we know that this agribusiness is going to become a reality. We have seen the feelers and that is the best thing that we are talking about”, he said.

He however, expressed some reservations on so much emphasis being made on making millions from the agribusiness warning that such trend may end up promoting money over job satisfaction.

His words, “For those who have spoken before me, the emphasis was so much on making millions which I never liked. You see, making millions does not make a man, job satisfaction is highly important because if you are in a business and you are happy, that is what you want to achieve. It is not the money. Money takes you to some other terrible problems. So, our emphasis should not be so much on making money but let us be happy with what we are doing.”

While calling for farm implements to be made available, the Alaawe of Awe kingdom urged that “we have to try our best to ensure that what we are doing here come to fruition and our youths are ready to work very hard so that we can achieve our main objectives.”

Earlier in his welcome address, the Coordinator, Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT), Dr. Chrys Akem explained that the event was an exhibition or open field day being sponsored by a project funded by the African Development Bank called Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation.

Akem added that the project was fortunate to have Awe as a site where they could have event of such nature, where they could come and exhibit or demonstrate the technologies that had been developed noting that they were being up scaled not only throughout Nigeria but throughout Africa.

According to him, “This project is being sponsored by the African Development Band and it is being developed across Africa, 29 countries and counting and we at the IITA are the executing agency, we as the lead centre is basically implementing this project. So, we have the honour to have this first field day at this centre and it is going to be one of many that are going to come.

“Part of the philosophy of this project is basically to reach out to the community and demonstrate some of the technologies that are available, some of which that can be picked up by the community to meet the aims of the project which is to improve their livelihood, improve their income and basically improve their well-being.”

He continued, “This hub as we come to call it is owned by the Oyo state government but they have gracefully gone into collaboration with IITA in joint partnership to see how we can use this centre to train the youths. The focus here is to train youths on the various aspects of agriculture so that they can take agriculture as a business. We have a commitment with the government to train thousands of youths from Oyo state and take make sure that they have meaningful employment after they go through the training.

“The training is usually in two parts; the theory, telling them how things are done and the practical to show them how things are done. It is a very complete institution, we have rooms here to house some of the trainees, there dormitories here for boys and girls, there are training rooms, there are demonstration farms, it is as complete as you can have it. Our plan is that in future, whenever we have a group come to IITA, especially with focus on anything to do with the youths, this is the place to come to. We are real lucky that within one hour from Ibadan campus, you can make it here, spend a few hours here and be able to get back to Ibadan.

“So, again, we are really blessed, we are really thankful and we cannot thank the Oyo state government enough for giving us this wonderful facility so that we can use it for the benefit of the youths.”

On his part, the Regional Manager, Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency (OYSADA), Mr.Babatunde Adewale Rufus revealed that Oyo state government had been engaging in open day exercise in the past under various names such as Agric Show and Field day even as he acknowledged that what IITA had was a little bit different as technology had been introduced.

He pointed out that Oyo state government had have shifted from normal agricultural production and had gone into agribusiness insisting that “our youths have imbibed our message and that is the essence of the testimonies we are hearing.”

‘And to our farmers, I want to encourage us that as we are farming, we too should focus more on the business aspect of agriculture not only production so as to make profit. Agriculture is no more a way of life, it is already a business.

“I want to thank the IITA for implementing this programme –TAAT and all the collaborating agencies; I want to thank the banks for supporting our youths and even our farmers on this project.”

Highlights of the event were; testimonies from the beneficiaries of the ENABLE-TAAT, tour of the park, demonstration of technologies and exhibitions, sale of produce as well as group photographs.

Photo: (L-R): IITA Director General’s wife, Mrs. Charlotte Sanginga, Coordinator, Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT), Dr. Chrys Akem and representative of the Alaawe of Awe Kingdom, Chief Apostle Samuel Taiwo Oladipo during the ENABLE-TAAT Open Day held by the Youth in Agribusiness office of IITA at Oyo State-IITA Youth Agribusiness Park Centre, Awe on Tuesday.

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