Food security: Edo engages stakeholders to resolve land disputes, provide arable land for smallholder farmers

The Edo State Government has commenced a state-wide engagement of community leaders and other critical stakeholders to bring a lasting solution to the problem of farmland disputes in the state, ensuring that arable land is made available to smallholder farmers to drive the government’s food sufficiency plans.

Managing Director, Edo State Investment Promotion Office (ESIPO) and Chairman, Edo Arable Land Committee, Mr. Kelvin Uwaibi, disclosed this to journalists after a meeting of the Arable Land Committee, at the Edo Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, in Benin City.

He said the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration has taken pragmatic steps and initiated nuanced policies to make the agricultural sector viable to create jobs for the youths and ensure food security in the state.

According to him, “Following the inauguration of the Arable Land Committee by His Excellency, Mr. Godwin Obaseki to tackle land issues and make farmland available for smallholder farmers with the aim of increasing food sufficiency in the state, the committee is making a strategic move to engage critical stakeholders, including communities, to come up with solutions to farmland issues across Edo.

“It was agreed by the Committee that Town hall meetings will be held in the targeted communities beginning from priority areas. This is to get the buy-in of stakeholders from the grassroots as the dialogue continues.”

“The Committee also agreed that different communication channels will be created to drive the process of resolving complaints,” he added.

Uwaibi listed critical issues which the committee targets to resolve to include land tenure system for farmland across the state; policies and laws as regards land availability and land use in the state; acquired land that is not being put into use to be revoked and made available for smallholder farmers for cultivation, and negotiations with legitimate individual landowners to make these land available for farmland use, creating a workable model among the major stakeholders specifying negotiation, among other steps to reduce land crisis.

Others are proper research to ascertain the current land crisis in the state; stakeholders mapping; availability of the total landmass for arable farming in the state, and a draft procedure of land acquisition in Edo State.

He further noted, “We must be able to find solutions to some of these issues; we need practical solutions. At the end of the day, we must be able to tell the Governor the total arable land available in the state.”

Members of the Committee include government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), private organisations, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and farmers, among others.

The Committee head urged individuals, investors and communities to send their proposal stating available land for farming either on a partnership, lease or rent agreement; request for land for farming, and complaint on farmland that has not been fully utilized due to challenges, identifying the location, challenges and proposed solutions to