By: *Sangodare Ayinla* 

In the history of Kwara State, the impressive feat achieved so far by the Kwara Fadama CARES will prove that this is the first time the government, out of sheer commitment and sincerity, will deploy acumen to battling hunger and poverty with the intention to improve people's lives. In other words, it is under the administration of Mallam Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq that farmers now make open confessions about what they described as “the unusual package of comfort” and “timely empowerment that will crush hunger and poverty” because such intervention is massively efficient in changing lives. The beneficiaries of the intervention by the Kwara Fadama CARES are always fast in reacting to what they consider reasonable and practically impactful programme.
Through the Kwara Fadama CARES (a state-budgeted intervention assisted by the World Bank), Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has come out to convince the people of the state that the government cares for the people, and that investment in farming, especially when it has to do with empowering the poor and vulnerable, is a gargantuan modality for wealth creation and economic rejuvenation. The Kwara Fadama CARES, with the support of His Excellency, has reached out, on two different occasions, to indigent farmers/beneficiaries across the sixteen local government areas in the state. 

The Fadama CARES is a baby of emergency to give hope to the hopeless, and an initiative of ease in the period of hardship. If the NG-CARES (Nigerian Covid-19 Action Recovery and Economic Recovery) was conceived to respond to the catastrophe of the covid-19 pandemic, the Fadama CARES, so far with the Kwara State Governor and as promising as it is, brings food to tables for the indigent farmers.  The Kwara Fadama CARES is a striking example justifying AbdulRazaq-led administration's giant stride at improving people's lives. Every speaker, writer or commentator, while giving a scorecard to the performance of AbdulRazaq-led government, will always make reference to the revolutionary mantras called O to ge even after the Governor has beaten the people's imagination with numerous sterling achievements and progressive palpable assurances in practical terms.  The significance of such reference is to continuingly stimulate inspiration and engineer morale in governance. The outcome of this is a government with a track record and administration that is touching people’s lives.

 It is interesting to note that the Kwara State Government flagged off the first disbursement exercise on the 21st of June, 2022. This ceremony was held in Oke-Oyi, Ilorin East Local Government Area. Facts and figures will help clarify any discussion about the intervention. The first phase of Kwara Fadama’s disbursement took care of farmers totaling Six Thousand, Five Hundred and Sixty One (6,561), who received crop inputs and assets including maize, rice and soya bean seeds; SSP, NPK and UREA fertilisers; herbicides and insecticides; small ruminants (goats) – four ruminants to each farmer; fingerlings, bags of feed, sachets of vaccines and 500g salt; Knapsack Sprayers with PPE (Personal Protective Equipment); Smoking Kilns; and Water Pumping Machineswith accessories.  The official flag off only took place as stated above,  but farmers had experienced sigh of relief since 28th May, 2022, when Kwara Fadama CARES commenced distribution of goats in Afon, the Headquarters of Asa Local Government Area.    

 Afterwards, as a Performance for Result (Pfor R) programme, the results of the platform got verified and approved by the Independent Verification Agent (IVA). Suffice it to say that the success story of the assessment by IVA qualified the platform for the second disbursement.  The second phase of intervention materialised and it was an improvement over the earlier one and proved Governor AbdulRazaq right in his resolve to boost food security and deliver prosperity via agriculture. This batch gave Seven Thousand, Nine Hundred and Fifty (7, 950) indigent farmers the opportunity to receive both agricultural inputs and assets. The breakdown is as follows: 3, 560 maize farmers; 1, 410 soya beans farmers; 2, 050 Knapsack sprayer recipients; 900 fish smoking kiln farmers; and 30 small ruminant beneficiaries. 

Represented by his Deputy, Mr. Kayode Alabi, Governor AbdulRazaq reinstated, at the event, his commitment to jump-starting the agricultural sector, keeping people abreast on his efforts so far to expand businesses for economic elevation. He noted that the inputs and assets distributed “fall under the Disbursement-Linked Indicators (DLI) 2.1 and 2.3 of FADAMA NG-CARES.”

His Excellency then recalled and highlighted some of the remarkable agricultural initiatives his government has embarked upon since assumption of office to create business opportunities for farmers in the state. 

 “Since 2019, when we assumed office, our administration has resolved to offer every opportunity for our farmers to expand their businesses for better economic breakthroughs. We have been implementing various agricultural initiatives such as Livestock productivity Resilience Support Project (L-PRES), Special agro-Industrial Processing Zone (SAPZ) Project, National Programme for Food Security (NPFS) and many others. All of these programmes. All of these    have been designed to promote food security and sustainable economic growth. It is targeted at fighting hunger and extreme poverty”, AbdulRazaq disclosed.

In his characteristic manner, the Governor likewise appealed to the beneficiaries to make judicious use “of this opportunity, which is funded from the public purse.”  He projected that if the farmers do as instructed, such act “will help to spread wealth and reduce inequality in our society.” At this point, one can get the message of the Governor: his intent is to bring wealth to every home in the state and disintegrate the status-quo of uneven wealth among Kwarans.  The inference here is that Fadama CARES is people-oriented, not an initiative designed for a few exclusive plutocrats or cronies of the Governor. It is really for the have-nots in society. Therefore, indigent farmers in the state have every cause to commend the Governor who has on his heart the concern and plight of the people he is governing.
The keynote address by the Acting Chairman, State CARES Steering Committee (SCSC) and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Alhaji AbdulRazaq Folorunsho, emphasised the correlation between the huge achievements (especially the increase over the earlier phase of the platform’s intervention) and Governor AbdulRazaq’s re-affirmation cum fulfillment of his policy of enhancing food security through dedication to agricultural revolution and curtailing hunger. “It is my sincere conviction that with the increase in the number of FADAMA beneficiaries, there will be a corresponding positive impact in the food sector of the state”, he further assessed.   

Folorunsho’s words were unequivocal: the Kwara state Governor has deployed Fadama CARES to translate the resources in the state, using his acumen, into hunger amelioration and wealth opportunities for the people. In other words, the language of the Governor is that if hunger is addressed, the tripod of poverty is collapsed.

Earlier in his speech, the State Project Coordinator, Kwara Fadama CARES, Engr. Dr. Busari Toyin Isiaka, eulogised the suitability, timeliness and appropriateness of the initiative. He declared that the intervention was a reasonable and practical step by the government of Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq to palliate the citizens in the face of the hardship and inconveniences triggered by the recent removal of petrol subsidy in the country.

The Coordinator congratulated and enjoined the farmers to commend His Excellency for always reaching out to them. He also assured the recipients of Governor’s further gestures of intervention. Busari then thanked the Governor for his usual support for the project, stating that the Governor’s achievements across all the sectors speak volume about his total devotion to the development of the state, which, he claimed, was partly responsible for his emergence as an indispensable national icon in the honoured status of the chairmanship of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum.  

He gave kudos to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development; State CARES Coordinating Unit (SCCU); and State CARES Steering Committee, which, he said, have always been supporting and playing remarkable roles in ensuring there is smooth, speedy and impeccable implementation of the programme, adding that their contributions are imperative to the success achieved so far.  

Symbolic presentation of items distributed was the highpoint of the flag off ceremony. It was a moment of cheers for the beneficiaries, who came from different LGAs across the state. They could not hide their joy. Some of them spoke on the positive impact the intervention would have on then and society at large, the significance of the initiative and the sincerity of the Governor on his promise and the passion with which he handles matters that have to do with the masses.  For instance, the Chairman, Ajase-Ipo Farmers' Community Association, Mrs. Funke Mary Ojomu, commended the government for the initiative and stated that it would ever remain memorable in the memory of the beneficiaries.  

"It is a good project. We are happy for being part of those who received different items from the government to aid food production. It will bring positive change to us. Go to the market and ask for the price of Knapsack Sprayers, even, to buy bags of fertilizer these days. We will never forget this good gesture by the Governor. If you are a beneficiary, you will just have to give kudo to the government for this programme", said Ojomu. 

Another beneficiary, Mr. Samuel Obalowu Alabi, from Moro Local Government Area of the state, revealed that "Fadama NG-CARES is distinct in two ways. One, it is not about whom-you-know syndrome or use of influence before one can benefit from it. Despite the Nigerian climate is known for nepotism, this project is executed with utter transparency. At the same time, the project is very timely. You know, any scheme of relief can only be valued if it comes in the right time i.e. when there is pain or hardship. We appreciate the initiator for bringing succour to the poor farmers this time. It is like providing someone water to quench thirst at the right time. We thank the Governor." 

Similarly, Mr. Afolayan Sulaiman Adefila, one of the farmers from Ilorin East Local Government Area, exclaimed and confessed that “This is incredible. It has never happened like this before. This government really belongs to the farmers. If farmers regularly receive inputs and assets like these from the government, farmers will be encouraged and food will be surplus in our society. There is willingness to work if we have resources. And I think this is what we need, empowerment or intervention like this. Our gratitude to the Governor is immense", Adefila said. 

What seemed a mirage to Kwarans during past administrations now becomes a reality, a reality of agricultural turn around driving in fulfillment in prosperous economic improvement for the poor and vulnerable. You may wish to know how it came to being, or the wisdom behind the overwhelming success. It is a matter of commitment, conviction, sincerity of purpose and stewardship on the part of the Governor. Nothing else, but above are what cost Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq in turning Kwara a reference state  in terms of agricultural buoyancy and speedy development in every sector of life. His is a government that is ready to change every narrative of decadence; and moribund and decrepit structure and return the government to the people. 

One thing is to have a tool; another factor is to master how, or be ready, to use the tool. It earns one an applause if, in the long run, one comes out in flying colour. The Kwara Fadama CARES has earned His Excellency Excellence! Understanding His Excellency’s focus, one will see that he is resolute to crush ‘hunger and extreme poverty’  

When people ask about Kwara Fadama CARES, it is a way the administration of Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq is jump-starting agriculture to tackle hunger and poverty. Let us remember that hunger crawls like a snake armed with dreadful venom threatening the poor section of society. It has to be tamed because “A hungry man is an angry man” The rationale behind the objective of His Excellency’s effort of jump-stamping agriculture is that when the problem of hunger is solved, the rest becomes a mild issue. In other words, the magnitude of poverty is weakened when hunger is tamed.

Kwarans do not need any palmist to tell them that Governor AbdulRahman Abdulrazaq is improving lives with the potentials of agriculture. Kwara Fadama CARES is an example! Thank you our Governor for fighting hunger and poverty through investment in farming. With this second phase of disbursement, it is no longer hard to believe that AbdulRazaq’s Fadama CARES truly cares!    

 *Sangodare is the Project Communications Officer, Kwara Fadama CARES*


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