Kwara governor vows to make the state food basket of Nigeria

Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq of Kwara State

Kwara State Governor, Alhaji AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, has reiterated his administration’s focus on making the state the food basket of the nation and creating jobs for women and youths through large-scale farming.

AbdulRazaq however commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the initiative and his untiring efforts to revive the country’s glory in the agricultural sector, adding that the project aligns with his government’s vision to support mechanised farming and address hunger.

The governor spoke in Ilorin weekend when he received the Executive Secretary of the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA), Prince Paul Ikonne, who came for an inspection of one of the sites for the state’s Integrated farm estate – a federal government’s agricultural project — in Agbeyangi, Ilorin East Local Government of the state.

Represented by the state Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Hon. Saba Issa Gideon, the governor called on the Agbeyangi community and other communities benefiting from the project to see it as an opportunity to change their economic status for the better and learn modern farming techniques.

“This farm estate will go a long way in boosting food production and engage more youth and women productively.

“It will also serve as a training centre for the locals to enhance their skills on farming. Some people might have been in doubt as to whether the project will come to fruition, here is the reality on the ground.

“We commend the federal government through NALDA and the participating community for providing land.

“As the federal government brings this initiative, the state government is ready to provide full support to make the programme succeed. I implore you (the community) to claim ownership and ensure that everything goes on well,” he said.

The Executive Secretary of NALDA, Ikonne, said the visit was for an inspection of the proposed farm site provided by the state government to fulfil the agricultural plan of the central government.

He revealed that the 100-hectare farm size will cover the production of yam, maize and cassava, as well as animal husbandry, saying no fewer than 2,000 people of Agbeyangi and environs will be engaged in crop production and processing.

He said: “We are here to inspect and officially accept 100 hectares of land the community donated for the NALDA Farm estate, which Mr President mandated us to develop in all the senatorial districts in the country to achieve food security and create job opportunities for Nigerians; and as you can see, the contractor has done a very good job in terms of land clearing. And you can also see that the community is willing and waiting to benefit.

“Their warm reception has afforded us the opportunity to educate them that the project belongs to them, and it will be made for three major crops.

“We will be cultivating yam, maize and cassava, and at the section of animal husbandry, we are looking at producing grass cutters in a very large quantity; rabbit rearing and their processing, and goat. We are looking forward to commissioning it within the next six months.”

He commended the governor for his commitment to the scheme.

“I am encouraging every community and state government like Kwara to key in, because we are here with the state government’s involvement.

“Any government that does not show interest, no matter how willing the community is to give the land, it will be difficult for the federal government to come in,” he added.

The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Non-Governmental Affairs, Toyosi Thomas, on her part, said the state government facilitated the land donated by the community and gave necessary support to NALDA to achieve the set objective.

According to him, “The state government has contributed to the project by accepting the whole concept because it is passionate about agriculture.

“So this aligns with what the government is doing and we are embracing it, giving support to NALDA in every way possible, and also reaching out to the community to get them to donate land.”

The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Job creation, Aliyu Alhassan, said the project became a reality following AbdulRazaq’s earlier visits to the NALDA office in Abuja and his readiness to make 500 hectares of land available for the project.

“The government also provided logistic support. We have been doing a lot of community engagement to ensure that land is made available across the state. We have land in Kaiama, Baruten, Ifelodun and here.

“The reason for this is not far-fetched, the government is determined to support efforts at achieving food security and generate thousands of employment,” Alhassan said.

The spokesman of the community, Alhaji Muhammad Abdulkadir, expressed their satisfaction at the prompt takeoff of the farm estate, saying it confirms the genuine commitment of the federal and state governments, pledging the community’s cooperation throughout.

“When the federal government, through NALDA, indicated intention in bringing a farm estate to Agbeyangi a couple of months ago, little did we think it would come quickly into reality.

“It is a confirmation of the genuine commitments of the federal and state governments on this, especially our man of action, His Excellency, Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, in his efforts at fighting the cankerworm of unemployment, hunger and poverty through enhanced investment in the agricultural sector,” he said.

Abdulkadir, therefore, disclosed that 70 per cent of the land was donated by Agbeyangi, while Eleyode – a sister community — gave out 30 per cent.

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