Kwara State Governor, Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq and his Technical Assistant on Agriculture, Abdulquawiy Olododo
Kwara State Governor, Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq and his Technical Assistant on Agriculture, Abdulquawiy Olododo

Governor AbdulRazaq’s Agricultural Revolution in Kwara, By Abdulquawiy Olododo

NEWS DIGEST – Agriculture holds a significant role in any given economy, its impact goes beyond the production of cash crops and livestock; it is the driving force of any nation as its value chain revolves around employment and labor, production and distribution as well as income generation.

According to NBS reports, Nigeria recorded a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 0.51 percent (year-on-year) in the first quarter of 2021, (Q1 2021) compared with the 0.11 percent recorded in the fourth quarter (Q4) 2020.

Agriculture contributed 21.42 percent to nominal GDP in Q1, higher than the 20.88 percent in Q1 2020 but lower than the 24.23 percent in Q1 2021.

Kwara State is one of the emerging states in Nigeria threading on the pathway of agriculture. What may perhaps not be known by many is the fact that Kwara State has always been an agricultural state and its people have always depended on farming for economic survival.

The leadership of Governor Abdulrazaq Abdulrahman has been very key to the recent agriculture programs and campaigns ongoing in the state.

Abdulrahman’s administration has been a major proponent of agriculture as it has begun to leverage the agricultural potentials of the state.

Despite the economic climate of the country, the Kwara state government has committed significant resources to progress the 10-year Agricultural Transformation Plan it began last September.

This plan actively seeks to revamp the agricultural climate of the state by empowering smallholder famers who have had their businesses suffer from infrastructural deficit.

Agriculture represents the main source of economy in the state, but 80% of the farmers responsible for producing cash crops like cotton, cocoa, kolanut, coffee, palm oil and tobacco operate in localities with poor rural-urban access roads.

Since January, the Kwara state government has committed N400m to assist in the construction of new rural roads and refurbishment of several dilapidated rural roads within the state. These roads construction are being done in partnership with international donors and the World Bank.

The state government expect that the easy accessibility offered by these roads will guarantee that post-harvest losses are cut significantly. These effort is evident in the completion of the 5.2km road along Alapa-Arobadi.

When governor AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq launched the Agricultural Transformation Plan in January, he noted that its success would depend on “crop production, finance, livestock, access to market, value chain, and cross cutting programmes.”

The state government has already partnered with Friesland Campina Wamco in a bid to develop the diary value chain in the state. The state seeks a distribution chain where farmers can successfully add value to their products using processing and marketing channels.

Kwara recognises that a lack of data was impeding agricultural developments. “This limits adequate implementation of interventions,” the state government said last September. The government has since begun the digitization of the farmers’ data bank to help ensure better and targeted intervention in the future.

Over 2000 farmers have benefited from the state’s subsidized mechanization scheme which provides arable lands in excess of 5000 hectares. The state government has also distributed fertilizers to 3,000 rice farmers at subsidized rates.

In 2020, the Kwara government helped 680 farmers secure agricultural loans from the CBN Anchors Borrowers Program to cultivate 1,300 hectares of land.

Last Wednesday, Gov. AbdulRasaq commissioned 15 new tractors and several farm implements—ploughs, ridgers, harrows—to mark the second phase of the state’s Agricultural Transformation Plan.

“This will totally transform the way crop production is carried out in Kwara state, and ensure that mechanisation becomes the norms for all farmers in the state,” Gov. AbdulRasaq said.

Wednesday’s event came two weeks after the input subsidy scheme that saw 10,000 farmers purchase farm inputs like seeds, fertilizers and herbicides at 50 percent market price.

The recent strides in the state’s agricultural sector were achieved without procuring loans from foreign and local financial institutions.

These strides build up to support one of Gov. AbdulRasaq’s cardinal agenda: to ensure that Kwara state is food sufficient.

With all these reforms and initiatives, Kwara State has drastically evolved into one of Nigeria’s leading agricultural states. A state whose goals have been channelled towards building a self-sufficient economy for the present and future to come.

Amb. Abdulquawiy A. Olododo is the Technical Assistant on Agriculture to the Executive Governor of Kwara State, Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq.