Experts at the maiden edition of the Young Rural Developers Summit (YORDS 2020) have identified the development of agriculture and rural areas as the key to Nigeria’s sustainable development.
The 2-day summit organised by the Rural Nurture Initiative (RNI) was held at the Centre for Sustainable Development in the University of Ibadan on Friday and Saturday. It was held under the theme: “Accelerated, Inclusive and Sustainable Rural Development in the Post COVID-19 Era.”
In attendance were renowned academics, political leaders, rural developer enthusiasts, agriculturists, students and individuals from all walks of life.
The speakers and panellists at the summit identified that if the Nigerian government would focus on the development of the rural areas, which hold the keys to the country’s development, Nigeria would be regarded as the food basket of the world and compete favourably with developed nations.
They also noted that the capacities of the agrarian people must be enhanced through bottom-up and problem-driven approaches in order to ensure that the development of these areas is sustainable.
At the event, the Oyo State Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Ojekunle Ojemuyiwa, was represented by I. A. Iroko, the Director of Extension Services, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Mr Ojemuyiwa applauded the giant strides being made by the Rural Nurture Initiative team and other well-meaning youths who are contributing their quota to support the Government‘s efforts towards developing rural communities in the Oyo State.
The Commissioner, in his speech, also mentioned the Ministry’s notable achievements and relentless effort in promoting agricultural development in Oyo State.
While delivering her keynote address, a Rural Development Consultant, Prof. Janice Olawoye said that Nigeria had all the potentials and resources needed to achieve sustainable development but the management of these resources had not been put in proper perspective.
The Retired Professor of Rural Sociology at the University of Ibadan submitted that if the money spent on oil in the country had been spent on developing agriculture and the rural areas, Nigeria would be regarded as “the land of food.”
She opined that the country is blessed with human, natural and material resources but these have not been utilised for sustainable development.
According to American professors, the people in rural areas must be adequately empowered and must be engaged in providing solutions to their problems in order for interventions in these areas to be sustainable.
She also added that a one-size-fits-all approach must not be adopted in order to proffer solutions to the problems of the rural areas, saying each of them has its peculiarities.
The Rural Development Consultant, however, identified that the government, corporate world, and academia must work together in order to bring development to the rural communities through a problem-driven approach.
In her address, the Executive Director of Rural Nurture Initiative, a non-governmental organization domiciled in Oyo state, Damilola Iyiola noted that developing the rural areas involves a multidimensional approach to ensure that every aspect of the agrarian communities is developed, especially agriculture.
Miss Iyiola said that the income of these people should be diversified in order to enhance their livelihood and that health care facilities, education, welfare, and social amenities must be provided.
She suggested that in every rural area targeted for development, situation analysis must first be conducted before solutions are provided to solve identified problems, adding that the solutions provided must be people-focused through a bottom-up approach in order to ensure sustainability.
She implored government, non-governmental organizations, and other interventionists that rural dwellers must not be regarded as unknowledgeable, adding that the rural communities are an embodiment of indigenous knowledge and resources needed to develop their own communities. Hence, they must be included in all stages of developmental interventions, to facilitate ownership and sustainability.
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