Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State recently inaugurated a multi-million Naira farm christened ‘Egbeja Snail Village’, which specialises in snail production. YAQOUB POPOOLA writes about the farm said to be the biggest of its kind in Africa
A consortium of agricultural firms, FarmKonnect and Dem Eli Farms & Merchandise are behind the new ‘Egbeja Snail Village’ initiative, which is capable of creating jobs for the teeming unemployed youths as well as contributing to food security and improving the revenue base of the State.
The Egbeja Snail Farm, a private initiative of FarmKonnect Agribusiness Nigeria Limited is expected to complement similar agricultural projects like the Ikun Dairy Farm by Promasidor Nigeria; FMS Agro, JK Rice, Stallion Rice, Dangote Rice. All facilitated by the current administration in Ekiti.
At a colorful ceremony that was graced by the Ajero of Ijero Kingdom, Oba Adebayo Adewole, and the host monarch, Owa Ooye of Okemesi, Oba Gbadebo Adedeji, the highly elated governor, said he would have resigned his positions as governor of the state to join the historic team. The governor disclosed that his administration’s ease of doing business policy and other vital supports for investments attracted over a million-dollar agribusiness investment into the State in the last two years.
According to him, many investors prefer to invest in the state because of the ease of doing business policy of the administration and sundry support the government offers prospective investors, including land and tax holidays.
“You will recall that the State Government efforts on agriculture and agribusiness over the last two years had already attracted almost a hundred million dollars investment in the sector via the Ikun Dairy Farm by Promasidor Nigeria; FMS Agro, JK Rice, Stallion Rice, Dangote rice, Promise Points and many more that are located in our special agricultural processing zone where all the facilities are being provided such as good roads, irrigation, and schools.
“Our ease of doing business personnel would continue to work with all investors while intending investors will enjoy necessary support including ease of doing business registration, land allocation, issuance of C of O, and tax holidays for a certain category of business,” he added.
Commissioning the multi-million naira Egbeja Farm, Fayemi promised to continue to provide enabling environment and strengthen the ease of doing business policy to attract more investors into the State.
The Governor said the new snail farm when completed, would produce a minimum of 2,600 metric tons of snail per annum and provide an opportunity for the extraction of slime for use by beauty care and pharmaceutical companies across the world.
He said the project would not only place Ekiti in the world market for the exportation of snails and slime but would also complement the vision of his administration in providing job opportunities for the teeming youths as the project has the capacity to engage over a 2,000 thousand personnel across various sectors of the initiative.
Fayemi who undertook a guided tour of facilities on the farm explained that the Egbeja snail village project was a demonstration and commitment of his administration’s quest for a complete agribusiness value chain ”from farm to fork where there will be value addition that would go beyond primary production to include processing, marketing, and delivery to our various dining table.
“Only last week, we flagged off the first phase of a 1000 kilometre rural access and Agricultural Marketing Project, our RAAMP initiative, which is a state-wide rural road project. This is an addition to the ongoing road projects that cut across the three senatorial districts of Ekiti State.
“Our rural road project is strategically structured to link our farmstead and hinterland to the major roads in order to enhance the movement of farm produce to the market and by the time we complete all the ongoing road projects, particularly the ring road and the cargo airport, agribusiness in Ekiti State will experience unprecedented growth.
“We are busy laying the foundation for the projected economic growth and urged other investors to key into our innovation agenda,” he stressed.
Earlier, the initiator of the project and founder of FarmKonnect Agribusiness, Azeez Oluwole said the project was proposed to occupy a 100,000 square metre of land to make it the largest place of snail farms in Africa and the second in the world. He said the construction of the structures of the farm, which is massive, would continue for the next two years and is going to be technologically driven.
According to him, “the setting up of the snail project in Ekiti was informed by the friendly investment environment made possible by the ease of doing business policy of the Fayemi-led administration. We will extract and produce snail slime here. It is more expensive and exportable than snail meat. Slime is used in Beauty Care and Pharmaceutical companies. A snail can also be processed into food that can be consumed locally or for export.
“There is going to be a value chain because we are building a hospitality business. We are also delving into other businesses like the production of Castol Oil and fleshy potato for food and energy, which has been found as a good supplement to cassava. We need to develop the agriculture sector. If we fail to do so, foreigners will come and do it, but they won’t create jobs for our children. To make agriculture very profitable for everyone, we must teach our people how to do agriculture in a modern way.
“Out of 100,000 square metres this project will cover, we have just built 7,000 sq. metres. By building 100,000 sqm structures here, this place will become the biggest in Africa and second-largest in the world,” he emphasised.
The Chief Executive Officer, Dem Eli Farms and Merchandise, Mrs. Oluranti Ojo, said the vision behind the agribusiness, is to contribute immensely to food security and nutrition through agricultural real estate of modern technologies and methodologies.
However, Fayemi, said the farm, aside from improving the economy of the state will generate 5,000 additional jobs for the teeming unemployed youths when fully operational. He assured that his government is resolute to make Ekiti a commercial hub for agribusiness, saying he had demonstrated this by attracting over 100 million dollars Public-Private driven agro-allied investments to Ekiti in two years.
“This project is the first of its kind in Ekiti. It will stock 2.6 million snails for the production of snails and slime for export into the international market. To us, it will provide easy market and foreign exchange earnings as well as generate employment for our teeming youth. The production of snail and slime in exportable quantities will automatically put Ekiti on the world map. At completion, no fewer than 5,000 jobs will be provided for our youths while also supporting our vision for youth empowerment and technology transfer.
“We are passionate about agriculture, which is our green investment here in Ekiti. We are ready to give tax holidays and issue Certificate of Occupancies to investors within 60 days of operation as part of our efforts to strengthen that sector,” he added.
Villam Agric Limited, a Dutch agricultural investment group is investing N3.5 billion for the growth and sustainability of agriculture in Ekiti State. The investment, according to Fayemi, will help the state rev up the abundance of agricultural fortunes by taking advantage of the adoption of agricultural technology in farming activities in the state.
Ekiti State, according to the governor was once a beehive in cocoa production, he, therefore, assured concerned stakeholders, local and foreign investors that various investments in agriculture will revive the production of cocoa in the state for local consumption and exports.
“For us, it’s time to convert our knowledge capacity to agric technology, higher productivity and yield, and reduction in post-harvest losses that we have suffered for years. And this is the time to do it as Nigeria confronts the challenges of the implications of Covid-19 on our oil where the price of our oil is going down.
“And when that price is going down, yes, you are the owners of Shell but you are also the agric capital of the world, so you have an alternative, when oil goes down, your agriculture fix in because that is almost on a permanent basis. So we have that to learn from you, and that is why entering into this partnership is a demonstration of where we want to be and the leadership that we want to offer in the sector,” he said.
The giant strides to revamp the agriculture sector, however, have started yielding results, as the governor has attracted investment worth $50 million to increase production and create employment in the sector.
The state recently issued a Certificate of Occupancy to Stallion Group for a $10 million rice mill in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, while Dangote Group is also finalising plans to locate a $5 million mill within the same location, which is now being seen as the rice-processing hub of the state.
Recall that Fayemi had set up a College of Agriculture in his home town, Isan-Ekiti, which he explained was to train people in agricultural best practices through modern technology with an expectation that the products of the college would, in turn, utilise their acquired knowledge and skills in the agriculture and technology base of the state.
“The dream and aspiration to have a College of Agriculture and Technology in our dear state have been resuscitated and this has been made possible through the re-enactment Act of 2019, which resuscitated the school. It gladdens my heart that the college commenced operation on September 4, 2019, and it is gradually afoot with remarkable progress.
“It is common knowledge that Ekiti is an agrarian state. Therefore, it is not by happenstance that agriculture and rural development is one of the five pillars of our administration. As a government, we are walking the talk in the agriculture sector with the aim of ensuring food security and financially empowering our farmers,” he said.