GOVERNOR ABDULRAZAQ AND KWARA FADAMA CARES: THE JOURNEY SO FAR




 *By: Sangodare Ayinla (Ph.D)* 


With ebullient agriculture, the world is on the safe side. This is true if there are governments that are ready to leverage this potential for creating opportunities for the people.  Suffice to recall the popular Yoruba saying that “Agbe l’oba” (Farmers are kings). These characters are not kings with literal crowns, but the metaphorical diadems connoting indispensability in mankind.  The foregoing is a proverb as well as a message to all, that farmers are essential in social sustainability. This philosophy is firmly embraced in the resolve of the Kwara State Government, as it stands to put smiles on the state farmers’ faces, expecting the latter to make society smile through their products. In achieving this, His Excellency, Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq (CON) has used the Kwara Fadama CARES project as a potent tool for driving empowerment/stimulation for farmers (especially, the indigent ones) to tackle hunger and poverty. In other words, with Kwara Fadama CARES, Governor AbdulRazaq is not only on the mission to, but he has been successfully expanding opportunities for indigent farmers. 



Following the Federal Government’s decision to apply a balm on the pain or agony evoked by the Covid-19 pandemic on mankind, the nomenclature of NG-CARES (Nigeria Covid-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus) emanated, coupled with the birth of various platforms. It is, in essence, initiated to address socio-economic impact of the pandemic. In Kwara, these delivery platforms are realised as Kwara State Community and Social Development Agency; Social Transfer; Kwara Fadama CARES, Labour Intensive Public Work Force;  and Kwara State Social Investment Programme to effectively deliver the objectives of the initiative. Fadama CARES, otherwise called Result Area2, is committed to agricultural stimulus for poor and vulnerable farmers to enhance food security by empowering the poor and vulnerable farmers.
 

Hence, Kawara Fadama CARES came to limelight. Since, the narrative of farmers’ engagement with the government has drastically changed for better.


     This initiative has gone a long way in reaching out to its targets. To be candid, Kwara Fadama CARES has succeeded in giving succour to indigent farmers in the state on two different occasions. On these two instances, the results have been tremendously positive on the lives of the beneficiaries.


The chronicling of the Fadama CARES achievements may not be adequate if we fail to briefly flashback to the rudiment of AbdulRazaq’s passion for agricultural revolution. When this administration assumed office in 2019, it was obvious it came with sheer commitment to offering every opportunity to Kwara farmers to expand their businesses for better economic breakthroughs.

 To this effect, the present administration has been implementing various agricultural initiatives. Some of these include Livestock productivity Resilience Support Project (L-PRES), Special agro-Industrial Processing Zone (SAPZ) Project, National Programme for Food Security (NPFS), subsidizing of agricultural inputs and assets, and many others. 


All of these have been designed to promote food security and sustainable economic growth. This policy is targeted at fighting hunger and extreme poverty. The lesson here is that when hunger is tackled, the wall of poverty becomes frail. 


One distinct attribute of the present administration is that it takes the bull by the horns in dealing with the issues affecting the masse. The Governor’s approach is always practical; this principle is extended to every sector in the state to drive development and open opportunity entries to all and sundry in the state. Farmers in the state know for difference the benefits of Fadama CARES. What we will never forget about this project is that the State Governor has truly implemented it as envisioned, and the people for whom the project was designed have seen it as a historic intervention.


With Kwara Fadama CARES, it is about happy news coming to farmers’ ears. In the history of the state, this will be the first time farmers would 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 for better. The beneficiaries concerned are always eager in reacting to what they consider reasonable and practically impactful projects. The achievement of the Fadama CARES truly exemplifies this conviction.  
In this programme, Kwara State falls under Result Area2 of the Disbursement-Linked Indicators (DLI) 2.1 and 2.3 including inputs and assets. In the two events of the disbursement, farmers in the Local Government Areas across the state have benefited from input and asset intervention. 


     With its main objectives of increasing food security and enhancing safe functioning of food supply chains, Result Area2 (the term for which Fadama CARES is metonymic) is striving to ensure surplus food declaration for the nation. Without mincing words, Kwara has had it so good and funny that beneficiaries have sung praise chants for the government to express gratitude and joy over the promise fulfilled.  


  At this point and with facts and figures, let us reveal the available data to show we are dealing with reality. This is why we have to look at the trajectory of disbursement so far, so that it will be proved that this write up is void of propaganda.


 On the 21st of June, 2022, the Kwara State Governor, Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq (CON) flagged off the first disbursement exercise.  This ceremony, held in Oke-Oyi, Ilorin East Local Government Area, was the first phase of Kwara Fadama’s disbursement. This 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 Machines with 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.


The second phase of the Fadama CARES intervention came and it was an improvement over the earlier one. This proved Governor AbdulRazaq right in his resolve to boost food security and deliver prosperity via agriculture. In this batch, Eight Thousand and Twenty (8,020) indigent farmers were given both agricultural inputs and assets. At this ceremony, the Governor was represented by his Deputy, Mr. Kayode Alabi, who reinstated the State Government’s commitment to jump-starting the agricultural sector, keeping people abreast on his efforts so far to expand businesses for economic elevation. 


Kwara Fadama has achieved a height in terms of intervention. The Commissioner, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Hon. Oloruntoyosi Thomas, said the project has immensely affirmed His Excellency’s policy to rejuvenate agriculture in the state. “Kwara Fadama CARES, which is synonymous to food security program, is a critical component of agricultural policy, particularly in the context of agricultural rejuvenation”, she noted. She further admitted that the Governor has strengthened agricultural systems to ensure access food, so that Kwarans “can better cope with and recover from unexpected challenges, thereby enhancing their overall stability and security”.    


From the horse’s mouth, an assessment of the success of Kwara Fadama CARES is accurate and adequate. The State Coordinator of the project, Engr. Dr. Busari Toyin Isiaka, revealed that through the fulcrum of Kwara Fadama CARES,  “Governor  AbdulRazaq increased availability of and accessibility to food for poor and vulnerable farmers, ensuring that they have enough to  eat and are not at risk of hunger  or malnutrition.” Besides, Kwara Fadama CARES has improved the livelihood of farmers as their agricultural productivity and income have skyrocketed. The same project, according to him, has helped farmers to build resilience to shock, has availed youths and women empowerment opportunity, and has sustained farmers’ agricultural practices and enhanced community development because the concept of the project is community development-driven. 
Busari confirmed that the beneficiaries in the two disbursement exercises totaled Fourteen Thousand, Five Hundred and Eighty-One (14, 581), cutting across youths, women and men. He also assured farmers that more interventions are still coming their way, as he disclosed that preparation for the third phase of disbursement is underway.  


Rolling out the number of the beneficiaries already captured for the forthcoming disbursement and the items to be distributed, the Coordinator said that Two Thousand (2000) farmers will emerge solely under asset and advisory services (DLI 2.3). The prospective beneficiaries in this phase, he added, have undergone several verification screenings, and that items to be disbursed include Knapsack Sprayers with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Advisory Services; Rain Gun Sprinkler Irrigation Package for Dry; Season Farmers with Advisory Services; Fish Smoking Kilns with Advisory Services; Water Pumping Machine and Accessories with Advisory Services; Feeders and Drinkers for Poultry Farmers. 
By the time the third disbursement is carried out, the summation of the beneficiaries so far will be Sixteen Thousand, Five Hundred and Eighty-One (16, 581).  Within some few years the project took off, Kwara Fadama CARES has achieved a magnitude of intervention in the lives of poor vulnerable farmers.


  The saying goes, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”  A number of beneficiaries added their voices to the testament of this life-bettering achievement. Fadama CARES is a household in Kwara, it is a key for farmers to ride from the pothole of penury to the doorway of prosperity. This is a wonderful means a serious administration responds to hardship/poverty with a view to alleviating the discomfort this heinous enemy brought to humanity.


If you ask the people about how Fadama CARES has fared in Kwara, numerous confessions will come your way from the recipients of the inputs and assets distributed. It has come, seen and delivered.  These are the testimonies of some of the beneficiaries, who spoke on the impact of the project on their lives. Mr. Taiye Akanji from Moro Local Government Area confessed that the intervention really changed the trajectory of his farming production. “I will always remember that there was a time when a Governor, for the first time in the history of the state, decided to make farmers feel a sense of belonging. Each member in our group received three bags of fertilizer, 10kg of Maize seeds, 1 litre of Cypermetrine and 1 litre of Atrazine    This has also encouraged me personally; it has enhanced my livelihood”, Mr. Akanji stated.  

Another farmer, Sikirat Olohunoje, a member of Ikanosindara from Asa Local Government Area, said that the project is distinct and assuring that Kwara State is a fertile land for the agricultural enterprise, noting that the kind of support farmers now get from the state government shows the magnitude of Governor AbdulRazaq’s passion for farmers and agricultural rejuvenation in the state. She expressed her feeling, “This is a great empowerment; women are given priority. We are all women in my group. Our group received a Smoking Kiln. Today, it is a good story for us. We are grateful.”



The respondents, however, pleaded that the government should not stop such initiative. They argued that if the tempo of this kind of agricultural intervention continues, increase in food production is sure to continue in our state.   

      
Here we are in the chronicling of Governor AbdulRazaq’s agricultural intervention scheme in mitigating the discomfort occasioned by Covid-19 pandemic. His Excellency’s Kwara Fadama CARES is an agricultural rejuvenation for turning Kwara around. This is rain of relief to farmers, who had counted losses as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. While I am in search of the appropriate expression to end this piece, the assessment of the project’s Coordinator, Engr. Dr. Busari, reverberates in my mind “Kwara Fadama CARES has had a positive impact on the lives of poor and vulnerable farmers in Kwara State by improving their access to food, enhancing their livelihoods, and increasing their resilience to shocks and crises.” On this note, I can hear loud the inner vocalization of Kwara farmers as they say, “Thank you, our Governor.” 


 Dr. Sangodare Ayinla,
Communication Officer,
Kwara Fadama CARES

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