The geographer would describe Ogun State, in Southwestern Nigeria, as nestling within the tropics. It’s bounded to the West by the Republic Of Benin, to the South by Lagos State and the Atlantic Ocean, to the East by Ondo State, and to the North by Oyo and Osun States. Well, does it all end there? No. Not so! There’s still a merry much more to describing the Gateway State. For within a 20-minute drive from Ita-Oshin garage, on the Abeokuta-Lagos expressway, the ecotourism adventurer would get refreshingly rewarded by the scenic beauty and mesmerizing greenery of Agroterra Resort.

Agroterra spreads out into the horizon as an exotic pearl of lush verdure within the well-wooded bosom of Joga-Orile, in Yewa North local government area. The rich biodiversity of the resort exhibits a vast array of medicinal plants. This unique feature has, once and again, stirred the curiosity of many a guest in these woods. And that has to do with visitors with pharmacological knowledge. This winsome expanse of lush greenery has been economically spiced up with both animal and crop husbandry.

Crops grown here include palms, cocoa, corn, cashew, cassava, yam, pineapple, watermelon, avocado, mango, potatoes, and a vast variety of vegetables. And mills are set up for on-the-ground processing of some of these crops. Cattle, sheep, ducks, rabbits, chicken are equally raised in the resort, along with fish farming. It’s interesting to note that the various plant species here can keep kitchens hyperactive with delicious dishes while equally guaranteeing sound health by way of their pharmaceutical values.

“A visitor from Northern Nigeria saw some herbal plants around and came up to me, requesting to harvest them,” recalls Alhaji Rasheed Afonja, the Chief Executive and proprietor of Agroterra, who is so humble and self-effacing that he could easily pass for an ordinary worker in the place. I gave him the nod, and he later recounted so many medicinal uses of his herbal haul which could, otherwise, be overlooked as ordinary weeds.

Agroterra has diverse nests of lodging that appeals to a variety of tastes and guests’ spending potentials. Accommodation facilities range from luxury rooms that go for a minimum of ₦10,000 per night and onwards, with the pricing graph notching northwards to ₦30,000 and beyond for business and royal suites. Beyond the special status accorded to golf, the array of sporting facilities at Agroterra includes a gymnasium, tennis, basketball, and badminton courts, a standard football field, a traditional games arena, and related facilities to keep guests and visitors as fit as fiddles by the time of rounding up their sojourn in the resort. A well-equipped theatre as well as a conference hall provides congenial venues for conferences, marriages, cinema auditions, talk shows, and suchlike social events.

“Nature has so graced this resort with such weather as exacts no need for air-conditioning in the rooms and halls,” commented a lodger. “This is not only good for refreshing health but it’s equally ideal for general wellness.” That was only saying the obvious.

But then Alhaji Rasheed puts across some clarifications: “What is considered as ideal for a business might not be valued as so by some set of clients. People have the tendency of not easily letting go with their attitudinal fixations even where they feel the need to discard them. And you must have to take care of the choices of such people to stay at the bright side of business.” He continued, “During the early stages of our operations, some business executives from Lagos got quite fussy about the need to install air-conditioning in the suites. And the Agroterra management had to go with the choices of such clients. So we eventually furnished the rooms with both air-conditioning and fans.”

The resort’s master plan has room for aquatic sports. The area earmarked for an Olympic-size swimming pool is set in the center of the hospitality arena. “The water demands of such a swimming pool are enormous,” observes Alhaji Rasheed. “So the challenge is to get the right water drilling engineers to drill to such depths as would guarantee a sustainable year-round flow for use in the swimming pool and other parts of the resort.”

The restaurant, located in the reception arena, tends to the diverse gastronomic tastes of its clients, with both African and international dishes and snacks. Agroterra Resort blossoms as an investment in tourism and agribusiness, with a uniquely humanitarian approach to commercial ingenuity, business management, and development. It blends commercial activities with charity-oriented human capital development. Despite being relatively new in the travel and tourism arena, the innovative entrepreneurial operations of Agroterra have earned it a stellar space in the patriotic firmament of the country. The corporate mantra is doing business while helping to brighten the future of the underprivileged youths in the community.

As I watched male and female students troop out of classrooms into the multi-sports arena, Alhaji Rasheed explains: “All the students here are being offered coaching in sports and educational programmes as part of the corporate social responsibility initiatives of Agroterra. We offer them accommodation, feeding, and tutelage under well-qualified and well-motivated teachers. And we hope that this would help brighten their future as well as drastically reduce the population of hungry, angry, and jobless people who pose serious threats to both national security and overall socioeconomic wellbeing.” This business model of a compassionate, visionary patriot inherently exposes the reckless greed and sadistic incompetence of politicians who are ever growling over trillion-naira budgets. Trillion-naira budgets which get wasted on prodigal foreign trips and a ubiquitous accumulation of properties at home and abroad. And all such spending spree is done at the expense of millions of impoverished and restive masses.

My first contact with this wonderland was in September 2021, under the auspices of the Nigerian Tourism Development Authority (NTDA – then known as the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation – NTDC). And that happened through the official graces of its Southwest Zonal Coordinator, Mr. Rotimi Ayetan, on the occasion of the World Tourism Day celebrations. The encounter got me saddled with the extemporaneous task of presenting a paper titled: TOURISM AS AN INDUSTRY THAT PROMOTES INCLUSIVE GROWTH AND PROSPERITY. Even if I was not prepared for such a tasking assignment, the lulling breeze of the scenic botanical beauties of the resort, generously granted me the inspiration that made me feel at ease in the face of the unexpected challenge. And so, the opening lines flowed through in praising poetry:

“We’re all here to celebrate
We’re all here to jubilate.
And we’re all thanking the NTDC
For injecting into tourism such functionality
As would raise businesses into making more money
And get us enjoying our lives in prosperity.
So it’s high time governments,
At local, state and federal segments,
Rose to provide the needed infrastructures
So we mine gold out of our ventures and cultures.”

However, ever since this eventful and highly commendable outing, the top management execs of Nigeria’s tourism industry seem to have withdrawn into distracting slumber. And such sleeping on duty might involve sprawling on the wads of budgets earmarked to transform the sector into a goldmine for massive job creation and foreign exchange earning.

Tijani Adebisi is a celebrated and veteran Travel and Tourism journalist