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Its springtime in Kwara…As Gov. Abdulrazaq revives agro-economy

Benefits of the ATP, its 10-year boost for local farmers

Stakeholders hail govt. intervention as welcome development

Kwara State has lived through its dire winter of grief. Sixteen years under the yoke of two under performing Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors – Bukola Saraki and Abdulfattah Ahmed – effectively rid the state of life and the people of hope.
But as the aspen tree puts forth anew its silver leaf, Kwara has found sweet recourse in the humaneness, efficiency, and brilliance of Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, the incumbent Governor of the State.

Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq deserves all the accolades he gets —not just for his work on Kwara but also for its timing. In a deeply depressing time, when most states are distraught and barely convalescing from the ravage of COVID-19, Abdulrazaq shows up to remind us what was waiting on the other side of the pandemic: the joy of connecting with people through sterling governance.
His case is particularly different; this is because unlike some of his peers, he inherited a state severely ravaged by inept leadership, corruption and policy failure. Add these to an economic distress imposed by the pandemic and you have a perfect portrait of Kwara as a state in distress.

One key area of focus of his administration was the state’s agricultural economy. He understood the benefit of building a vibrant atmosphere for farmers and agro-investors to thrive. Thus he launched a 10-year Agricultural Transformation Plan (ATP), founded to ensure food security, generate employment opportunities, and reduce poverty rate.

The plan is hinged in six pillars of crop production, finance, livestock, access to market, value chain, and cross-cutting programmes, the governor said at the launch of the initiative in Ilorin, the state capital.

Governor AbdulRazaq stated that the initiative comes with measurable milestones to ensure faithful implementations by all the stakeholders involved. He said, “It is a 10-year plan which is based on verifiable data gathered from field research and extensive consultations with various stakeholders and experts in the sector. The plan spells out the opportunities and challenges in the agricultural sector in the state, and identifies six pillars that are critical to the success of the plan.”

Those pillars, he noted, are crop production, finance, livestock, access to market, value chain, and cross-cutting programmes. Abdulrazaq explained that each of these pillars are highlighted in the ATP document and the milestones to be reached in the course of its implementation.
The essence of the initiative is to ensure food security, attract investments to the sector, create jobs, reduce poverty, and create inclusive growth by giving equal opportunities for women and girls to also benefit from everything that this plan has to offer, according to Abdulrazaq.

At the backdrop of the ATP, initiative the governor also committed to an initiative to collaborate with the Lagos State government on food production, even as Kwara would be investing some N2bn in the agricultural sector in partnership with the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), a platform of the African Union to advance economic growth on the continent.

There is no gainsaying Governor Abdulrazaq recognises the place of agriculture as a veritable driver of economic growth. Blessed with vast arable land, good climate and peaceful atmosphere, Kwara has comparative advantages to be the country’s hub for agribusiness thus his substantial investments in critical infrastructure and sustainable plan to convert its potentials to real growth.

His administration’s commitment to the refurbishment of rural and urban roads was equally meant to reduce travel time, boost productivity, and encourage investments in Kwara’s burgeoning agro-economy.

Over 700 kilometres of rural roads and several river crossings linking farming communities were listed to be fixed under the World Bank/Kwara partnership within the next years — and this was made possible by the government’s payment of N400m counterpart funds between 2019 and 2020.

Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly Rt. Hon. Yakubu Danladi Salihu, has commended the administration of Governor Abdulrazaq for his efforts to improve rural road infrastructure for easy movement of farm produce.

“This plan, when well implemented, will improve the state’s internally generated revenue, which is very important. With the Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP), about 700kms will be taken care of and the Agricultural Transformation Plan will be a plus to us all in the state,” he said.

Technical Assistant to the Governor on Agriculture AbdulQowiy Olododo, explained that the plan is unique and comprehensive as it captures both the enormous potentials in the agricultural sector in Kwara and the actionable steps that would be taken to harness such potentials and turn them into tangible benefits for all.

“In line with the vision of the Governor, this Transformation Plan has been designed to deliver unending benefits to the people of Kwara State. The benefits include but are not limited to massive decent job creation for women and youths, improved nutrition, availability and affordability of quality food, rural infrastructure development, improved living standard and economic growth,” he said.

The state chairman of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria Hon. Umar Muhammad Aboki equally commended Governor Abdulrazaq for consulting with and involving farmers in the plan and for developing the sector to attain food security.

From zero functional tractor that it inherited in 2019, the Abdulrazaq administration has purchased at least 15 new tractors, complemented with implements and sustainable plans, to support commercial farming, drive economic growth, and create jobs.

And just recently, state government flagged off the agricultural inputs subsidy scheme to support smallholder farmers with chemicals, improved seeds, and fertilisers at half market price. No fewer than 10,000 beneficiary farmers have been captured. The subsidy is an offshoot of the Beta Yield component of the transformation plan. Another component is the 500-hectare per local government Farm Kwara initiative whose pilot scheme has berthed in Ifelodun local government, supported by the private sector to help young people and women through agribusiness.

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