In few years, Iyani will be food basket of Southwest – Oba Joel Sunday Daodu
Akoko North-West is a Local Government Area in Ondo State, Nigeria. Its headquarters is in the town of Okeagbe. It has an area of 512 kilometers and a population of 213,792 as at 2006. Iyani is about 15 minutes’ drive to Ikare and is in the same district area with Arigidi, the birth place of Pastor Temitope B. Joshua who is the founder of Synagogue of All Nations Church. This area of Ondo State is mainly agrarian.
In the whole of Ondo State, Iyani has one of the most arable lands; it is, therefore, no surprise that for some years now, both foreign and local investors in agro-related businesses are beginning to troop into the hitherto quiet town for all manner of investments.
Just early this year, a South Korean Agro Industry met and negotiated a deal to begin large-scale mechanised farming in the town. The company has commenced putting structures on 300,000 hectares of land for the project. The Korean company is investing 300 million U.S. dollars in the first phase of the project, to farm and cultivate maze, cassava and soya beans in Iyani Akoko.
With this development Palace Watch sought and got an interview with Oba Joel Sunday Daodu, the Oluyani of Iyani in Akoko North-West Local Government Area of Ondo State.
Oba Daodu was asked what exactly attracted the South Korean firm to his town and what are the terms and conditions of the contract they entered into with the South Korea company?
Oba Daodu said: “Well, if you are not aware, Iyani community in Akoko has the most arable land in this part of the South-Western Region. We also have a vast farming land that is well over a million hectares. Over the years our people here have been involved in peasant farming; we were well assured, however, that with time things will change with regard to agriculture in these areas. We were therefore not surprised when people and companies of late began to show interest in large scale farming in our communities. They then began to approach us for land and collaboration.
“Early this year, this South Korea company representative came to see me in this palace, and requested for a huge parcel of land for farming. After I had taken my time to hear them out, I decided to summon representatives of the various communities that make up my kingdom and I got one of my chiefs to act as the interpreter during their meeting with our people.
“Before their arrival, we have been doing all our best to educate our youths to embrace agriculture. Pastor T.B. Joshua who is from Arigidi, a stone throw from here, has for years now been pleading and emphasizing to our youths to embrace agriculture, saying: ‘The future of Nigeria belongs to agriculture.’ He even went a step further to buy some tractors for the people of Iyani. Our campaign alongside that of Pastor Joshua is beginning to yield some results, as most of our youths who were redundant are now beginning to return home to engage in active farming. Not even that, only recently Governor Akeredolu’s government has given assurance to invest massively in agriculture. We, therefore, expect that any moment from now, once his government stabilises, revolving loans will be given to youths in these areas to improve methods of agriculture.
“So when this South Korea people came to meet with us, we welcomed them with open hands. After all said and done, we decided to go into collaboration with the Korea company. Our own contribution for now is the land. We agreed that once the large-scale commercial farming begins other than the employment it will provide for the youths around these areas, 25 percent of whatever profit the company makes will be for the community. As we speak, we are not putting a pin down for the project; the contractual agreements we have with them now will be renewed every 10 years.
We also agreed that once this project begins, for the first one, two, three years the Korea company will give this community N150 million annually as a kind of payment for the eco-system damages that may occur until the products begin to sell; then the required results, we agreed to stop accepting this and will now go into a sharing formula of 25 per cent of the annual gross earnings, which will be given to the host communities. We agreed to leave it at this since it is the Korea company that will be bringing the entire money, equipment and expertise with which this project is to be kick-started. As the project evolves we will begin to re-negotiate with the company. We are not unaware of the ripple effects of the benefits of a project or projects like this. If things go as planned, it is just going to be a matter of years, Iyani will become not only the food basket of the South West, but will turn out to be an industrial hub. What else can a traditional ruler like me wish for during my reign?
“You see, I am doing all within my powers to ensure that these projects come to fruition within the shortest possible time because of the immense value it will bring to my community and other communities. We are not just looking at the short time benefits, but the long time benefits too. Once this project is off the ground, in a matter of years, Iyani and its environs will begin to produce experts in agriculture-related areas. These skills we will begin to export to other parts of the country. We will surely become exporters of human capital projects. This is how great cities and countries are made. We are therefore focused.
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