Kwara State Government Agriculture Development Through Indigent Farmers Empowerment


 *By SANGODARE AYINLA* 

Thrilling account after three years of governance and a tale of accountability and justice in 
stewardship are what comes to mind whenever the administration of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq in Kwara State comes under the radar. 
Three years after the launch of the O-to ge-inclined administration, it has not been  business-as-usual in the economic life of the state. That Mallam AbdulRahaman AbdulRazaq administration outshines administrations of sixteen years that Kwarans had had in the past is an acknowledgement of the magnitude of the achievements recorded within the period. Those achievements- noticeable in education, health, water sector, energy, sports, judiciary, agriculture, commerce, works, and others- are enormous and they speak for the governor everywhere; hence, the presence of the government is visible in every nook and cranny of the state. For citizens and residents, it’s three years of bountiful harvests, it’s a glaring departure from moribundity to prosperity and fecundity. 

Responsible governments across the world do what it takes to address the plights faced by those they are governing, especially in the moments of privation and misery. Such manifestation is part of the materialisation of the social contract theory, as the citizens see their government in the course of accomplishing the accord between the two parties.    

The wind of disaster (in the figure of covid-19 pandemic) that distressed the world in the last quarter of the year 2019, and deepened mankind’s anguish in the subsequent years, widened poverty rate and heightened hunger indices. The aftermath of the pandemic is a story of despair for the poor and vulnerable.  In a situation like this, an amelioration initiative in form of interventionist approach, is, ideally, a necessity for the tempest of misery to subside.

Since assumption of office, AbdulRazaq administration has committed ample resources to the agriculture sector. The commitment vindicates the government’s desire to drive in a new narrative in food production and translation of agricultural facilities into economic upgrade for the masses. The governor is aware of and devotionally taking up the necessity of revolutionising the sector to meet up with the modern mode of farming and enhancing food security. Putting the record straight, it is salient to disclose that since inauguration, this administration has kept to its manifesto, especially in the area of agriculture. 

Apart from the Fadama NG-CARES programme, the numerous agricultural programmes the governor has put in place range from timely rehabilitation of Duku-Lade Irrigation Scheme; repair of tractors for mechanisation, creation of Agricultural Engineering Department; development of 10-year Agricultural Master Plan; procurement, distribution, and subsidization of agric inputs for 10, 000 farmers; procurement of tractors and bulldozers for mechanization, release of fund for the State-Wide Irrigation Scheme;  hosting and funding of World Food Day and Nutritious Food Fair and others.    

You only know true friends in the period of need and agony. This is exactly the apt proverbial description of Governor AbdulRazaq as he has empowered Six Thousand (6000) indigent households through the Fadama NG-CARES project. A calamity hit the people, and the governor is responding with stimulus or antidote to relieve the poor and vulnerable of the pain and hardship imposed by the covid-19 pandemic. Here is a story of actualisation; and history, which is more intelligent than every one of us, will continue to speak for only those who achieve feats that are history-worth.

On the 28th May, 2022, the clouds of the promise of the Kwara State Government to the farmers hit by the brunt of the hardship of the covid-19 pandemic turned rain for those farmers. The reality dawned on the people when in Afon, the Headquarters of Asa, the distribution of four (three females and one male) small ruminants (goats) as part of the livestock assets to each of the farmers registered for the Kwara Fadama NG-CARES Programme in the LGA. The ceremony in Afon was a tip of the iceberg as it was subsequently followed by the disbursement crop inputs and assets in the following week. And this cut across all the sixteen LGAs in the state. 

For all to know, crop and livestock inputs and assets went to indigent livestock and crop farmers comprising men, women and youths. To be specific, items received by those beneficiaries included small ruminants (goats), fertilizer, fingerlings with drug and vaccine, smoking kilns, pumping machines, maize seeds with herb herbicide, rice seeds with herbicide, soya beans seeds with herbicides and insecticide, sprayer and personal protective equipment (PPE).

The initiative is a well-thought and meticulously designed one; this is why both the inputs and assets provided are in alongside free extension and advisory services. Both extension and advisory services are to keep the inputs and the assets healthy and make them yield bumper proceeds in the long run. Without these, it is believed, the whole programme may turn a failure for the beneficiaries.  

We should remember that the programme is in its first six months, and it will span two years. In this first phase of disbursement, Six Thousand poor and vulnerable households are settled. Before the time of the remaining eighteen months matures, Kwara Fadama NG-CARES will have reached out to Twenty Thousand (20, 000) farmers, and transform their economic status immensely. Though this is an intervention of stimulus, it will lift many of these farmers to another level of robust economic status.  Truth will forever speak come what may: this is a project of high worth, a giant stride, an initiative that directly and tremendously affects the beneficiaries. 

Something is spectacular and amazing about the governor in relation to the giant stride. With the commencement of the distribution, the governor kept silent. It seems he thought that going by the ideal and true democratic culture, performance indices do not require propaganda, inordinate publicity and other techniques some governments use to make noises on worthless projects. Here is the governor who believes it the beneficiaries that will trumpet the achievement. His concern is what the people get, not what the government pronounces people will get. This gesture deserves thunderous applause and shouts of acclamation. 

Nobody heard the governor speak on this until 21st June, 2022, when the flag off ceremony took place in Oke-Oyi, the Headquarters of Ilorin East Local Government Area. It was this day that the work of the governor spoke for him. What a great occasion! It wasn’t great neither because of the presence of the governor and his entourage nor because of the governor’s grandeur. But the ceremony was groovy simply because of the worth of the project and because of the impact it has on the people benefiting from it. And with that, it was an opportunity for farmers to savour the rare opportunity the present administration has provided them. Thus, they were all enthusiastic. The day brought the reality of the government’s promise to the poor and vulnerable, it’s a story of fulfillment of promises; it’s a testimony of the Governor’s sympathy for indigent farmers. 

The flag off event was, in another way, memorable in the sense that the programme reminded the farmers in and the citizens of the state that the road to prosperity and buoyancy is personified in the amiable governor. For the beneficiaries, it was a time to reflect on how they can use the titanic and abundant potentials in the government of AbdulRazaq to harvest the uncountable gains in farming. They have strength, they have talents, but they are incapacitated by the lukewarm attitude of the previous administrations to stir and animate their zeal for farming. But now, now that the music has changed, the beat must definitely change. To them, there’s new breeze in the state, and the new breeze is nobody else than Mallam  AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq.        

In his speech, Governor AbdulRazaq   asserted that the initiative is one of many people-oriented programmes his administration has tailored to the emergency of post-covid-19 pandemic. He disclosed that the administration has keyed into several programmes intended to empower many vulnerable families so that they will get over the hardship imposed by the covid-19 pandemic, saying that Fadama NG-CARES project is particularly “designed to boost food security and deliver prosperity” to thousands of poor families and households across the State. 
He noted that Six Thousand households who are livestock, fishery and crop farmers would benefit from inputs and assets in the first six months. 

The Governor stated that the gesture has a rejuvenating effect on the local economy and that the distribution cut across vulnerable citizens, youths and women across the sixteen LGAs of the state, promising that the initiative would continue for the next eighteen (18) months targeting an aggregate of Twenty Thousand (20,000) beneficiaries. He then enjoined the beneficiaries to make use of the opportunity judiciously.   

He  also used the avenue to reiterate the administration’s deliberate efforts to revolutionise agriculture to open opportunity for high food production and economic buoyancy, explaining implementation of the state’s ten-year Agricultural Master Plan will testify to the government’s commitment to practically tackling challenges of food insecurity.

The Chairman, Kwara State NG-CARES Steering Committee, and Commissioner for Finance, Mrs Olasumbo Florence Oyeyemi, in her remarks, observed that it is a thing of joy for the farmers in the state that the governor made Kwara to be part of the NG-CARES programme. She added that it takes a committed governor to have recorded such huge achievement within the limited time of project implementation, adding that the NG-CARES initiative was sequel to the hardship caused by covid-19. And to make the implementation of the project hitch-free, the government has not failed to release fund accordingly.   

Presenting small ruminants (goats) to farmers on the first day of disbursement, the Technical Adviser on Agric,  Hon. AbdulQuawiyu Olododo, stated that the intervention programme is community-driven, hence, it is brought to the beneficiaries directly, and has  no place for favouritism and nepotism. He maintained that to boost food production and enhance safe functioning of food supply in the state, the present administration has implemented agricultural programmes like tractorisation, rice farming scheme, input subsidy and others.

The State Coordinator, Kwara NG-CARES, Mr. Olatunde Ibiyinka, elucidated that the benefit of the programme can be viewed from two perspectives, which he described as direct and indirect. That is, it is significant to individuals (beneficiaries); and beneficial to society or the state through externality effect, saying that the body language of the Governor to the NG-CARES in general shows that His Excellency is happy and that he is always passionate about the cause to better the condition of the masses.

Ibiyinka then forecast that the NG-CARES programme, which is designed to solve societal problems like hunger, criminality and others, would be a colossal success in the next six months, stating that many people would have been lifted from the dungeon of penury to a better condition.

In his welcome address at the flag off ceremony, the State Project Coordinator, Kwara Fadama NG-CARES Project, Engr. Dr. Busari Toyin Isiaka, commended the Governor for providing funds to carry out necessary activities to ensure that the implementation of the project is not hampered at any stage. He revealed that Kwara is on the front line as regards the Fadama NG-CARES project. 

Busari said that with the distribution of items to farmers of numerous Farmers Communities’ Associations (FCAs), the governor has fulfilled his promise, seeking the cooperation of the farmers in handling well the ruminants because good feedback from the beneficiaries will drive government’s encouragement towards subsequent disbursement.  He also charged the farmers to appreciate His Excellency and urging them to give him maximum support.

Congratulations, Kwara farmers. Congratulations, Kwara Fadama NG-CARES. And finally, congratulations, the Governor of distinction, Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq!  Among the numberless achievements of His Excellency within his three years of governance, this project must be counted along. This is a story of actualisation!

Dr Sangodare Ayinla is Project Communication Officer, Kwara FADAMA NG- CARE Project.

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