Community seeks govt. support

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Iraye (Ogun)- Farmers in Iraye town of Ogun on Saturday appealed to the state to support rural farming communities with basic farm inputs to enable them to transit to commercial farming.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Iraye is an agrarian community behind the NNPC Depot, Mosinmi, on the old Ikorodu/Sagamu Expressroad in Sagamu Local Government Area of Ogun.

The farmers, across 27 farming communities in the town are known for cultivating cucumber, plantain, maize, cassava, kolanut, pineapple, amongst others.

The farmers in separate interviews with NAN said the state government was not giving the communities the deserved attention in spite of recent publicised transformation in the agriculture sub-sector.

Mr Julius Atukum, an indigene of Benue and spokesman for the community, said he had been farming in Iraye for more than 30 years, but had not once enjoyed any agricultural benefits.

He said that “apart from the indigenes of Iraye also engage in farming, there are more than 100 settlers like me who engage in commercial farming, though at subsistence level.

“We sell our produce to wholesale buyers, many of whom come from Lagos and Sagamu.

“The challenges we face are enormous and single farmer has ever received any support from government either in form of loans, agricultural input or extension services.

“We only hear of such facilities on radio; it never got to us.’’

Atukum, who is also the Chairman of the Alajeseku Farmers Association, added that the community also lacked healthcare facilities, potable water, electricity supply and secondary school.

He also lamented the bad condition of the Ikorodu-Sagamu road, which he said, was preventing buyers from patronising their farm produce.

He added that “in the past, our customers come from Lagos and Sagamu, through the route, but since the road continued to go bad, patronage has reduced.

“Since we do not own vehicles here to convey our produce to the cities, we rely on private transport companies, many of whom now refuse to come here because of the bad road.’’

Another farmer, Mr Thomas Oke, said many farmers had abandoned farming to search for other means of livelihood because of the lack of support from government.

He said “farming is profitable but it requires energy; and at 67, there is quite little I can do on the farm.

“Government should come to our aid to make life bearable for us.’’

The Otunba of Iraye, Chief Olatunji Adekale, told NAN that the town was yet to benefit from any dividend of democracy since 1782 when it was founded.

He said “see the road; it has become worse than when the British colonialists first took this route.

The colonial masters were carried with sacks of cloths strapped to the shoulder of four people.

“In the past, transporters could come here to carry our farmers’ produce to markets in Ogun State and Lagos, but not anymore.

“Government could not even grade our roads; in fact, things were better in colonial days.

“We have no station even though of the first in the old Western Region was sited here.’’

The Octogenarian, who is also the Head of the Manibe-Gbolumade royal family, therefore, political office holders to be conscious of the needs of rural communities so that life could make meaning to them. (NAN)