Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has said the administration has continued to invest in agriculture and agribusiness to fight hunger and boost the economy of the state.
He also said the government has been creating an enabling environment for partnership of the private sector to provide adequate support for different categories of farmers to thrive.
The Governor was speaking in Ijara-Isin, Isin local government area, at the Farm Kwara Harvest and Cash-out 2022 – an agricultural scheme designed by the state government to fight hunger and reduce poverty through support for smallholder farmers.
Launched in Adanla (Ifelodun LG) in 2021 and later extended to Ahun, Oke-iya Ipo and Isin communities, the farm estate has benefitted not less than 120 crop and fish farmers since its inception, apart from creating jobs for hundreds of people who were engaged on the farms.
AbdulRazaq, who was represented at the event by the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Hon Abdullateef Gidado Alakawa, said the sector is witnessing a turnaround.
“What we are witnessing today is a manifestation of our promises that are coming to a reality. Before now, agriculture and everything around were at a lower ebb. Today, the story is different. People can see that, ” he said.
“People can see that the agribusiness is the best way to ensure a sustainable, secure environment. No society can feed all year round without farming all year round. And that is what the present government has continued to pursue, doing all its best to fight hunger and starvation in the land.”
He said the project could not have been successful if the government did not create the right environment for participation of the private sector, and thanked the affected banks for their sincere commitment to the project.
“When hunger and starvation are no longer part of what we deal with, the security challenge will be largely checked. And that is the focus of this government,” the Governor added.
He appreciated the fatherly roles of the Olusin of Ijara-Isin Oba Julius Ademola and Elerin of Adanla Irase Oba David, and the support from their communities, which he said culminated in the success.
In attendance were TIC Chairmen for Irepodun and Isin LGs, Hon. Jide Oyinloye and Engr Tunde Fadipe; Commissioner for Youths Bode Towoju; his counterpart in the Special Duties Bosede Buraimoh Olaitan; Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Non-governmental and Chairperson for Farm Kwara Programme Committee, Mrs. Toyosi Ayobola Thomas; SSA Job Creation and Deputy Chairman for Farm Kwara, Barrister Aliyu Alhassan; Special Assistant on Students Affairs Mubarak Bello; representative of the Commissioner for Communications, Demola Olanrewaju; and women and youths; among other personalities.
Royal fathers at the event were the Olusin of Ijara-Isin Oba Julius Ademola; and Elerin of Adanla Irese Oba David Oyerinola Adedunmoye.
Toyosi, for her part, said at least 120 farmers enjoyed varying supports of the administration to produce maize, beans and cassava in the pilot scheme across Ahun, Adanla (Ifelodun LG), Oke-Iya Ipo and Ijara-Isin (Isin).
She said the government has been working round the clock to scale up the beneficiaries of the farm project to 400 ahead of the next farming season.
“The government, in partnership with the financial institutions, provided startup zero interest loans for 50 Farmers to plant 25 hectares of Maize and beans in Ifelodun LG and 12 hectares of Cassava at Irepodun LG and 7.5 hectares of Cassava Isin LG. This came in addition with the 70 farmers who got our operational support,” she said.
“There are other 70 farmers that received operational support from the administration in the area of technical and extension services, security; harvesting; processing; packaging; logistics and market linkage support.”
She recalled that the Farm Kwara concept emanated from the Governor, who directed her and his four other aides to create an agricultural model that would sustainably improve lives of women and youths in rural communities.
Other members of the Committee, according to her, are the SSA on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Dr. Jemilat Bio; Technical Assistant on Agric (now GM KWASSIP) AbdulQuowiyu Olododo; General Manager State Geographic Information System Abdulmutollib Shittu; and some technocrats from Ministries of Agric and Finance.
Toyosi explained that funds were provided for 45 fish farmers in Ijara-Isin in partnership with the FCMB and Brightway Microfinance Bank.
“Among the benefits that the farm project offers the communities are to create jobs; improve their standard of living; give them access to agricultural education and best practices that will help improve their overall productivity within their respective communities”, she said.
She also said that the committee is partnering with Forest Research Institute of Ngeria to train 120 farmers on farm development and agroforestry enterprises.
She thanked AbdulRazaq for initiating the Farm Kwara Programme and for reposing confidence in the committee to serve Kwarans better in that capacity, adding that the concept was modelled after the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) project.
Toyosi also commended the Brightway Microfinance bank and FCMB for their partnerships by making funds available for the farmers in all stages of the farming activities.
Alhassan, in his remarks, said the scheme has produced not less than 100 sustainable jobs for teeming youths and women in Ahun, Adanla, Ijara-Isin and Oke-Iya Ipo communities in southern part of Kwara.
He said it was remarkable that each of the women and youths who participated in the Farm Kwara Project have sold their produce and are now counting their profits, adding that the job-creating initiative will be extended to other local governments.
Jejelola Motunrayo, a beneficiary from Adanla who cultivated cassava, said the programme enabled her to master modern farming techniques including value addition through trainings.
Other beneficiaries, such as Sidikat Hameen Bolanle (Adanla); Olasehinde Akintola (Ijara-Isin); Omoyeni Salau (Ahun); and Babatunde Salau (Oke-iya Ipo), also took turns to appreciate the government for enlisting them in the scheme, testifying that the estate farm was highly beneficial.
Oba Julius Ademola and Oba David Oyerinola Adedunmoye, said they keenly monitored Hon. Toyosi Thomas while coordinating the farm project in their communities and were satisfied, describing her as highly skillful, humble and result-driven.
The monarchs applauded AbdulRazaq for running impactful leadership to achieve inclusive growth and reposition the state, affirming that a progressive Governor like AbdulRazaq deserves another mandate to consolidate on his records of achievements.
Highlight of the occasion was the presentation of a dummy cheque of N1,035,000 to nine female farmers as profits of their sold produce. Certificates of recognition were also presented to the outstanding farmers.