By Olayinka Owolewa
The Kwara State Government has launched a 500-hectare farm pilot scheme tagged: “Farm Kwara” in Ifelodun Local Government Area to boost food security.
The scheme was initiated to create farming communities to nurture future agripreneurs, improve the productivity of smallholder farmers and boost food security in the state.
The Farm Kwara initiative is domiciled in the office of the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on non-governmental Affairs and Team Lead of the National Young Farmers Programme.
The Farm Kwara initiative will soon begin the process of accessing 500 hectares of land in other local government areas to establish farm estates and allocate up to five hectares each to 100 young farmers.
The initiative, an offshoot of the recently launched Kwara Agricultural Transformation Plan, is being facilitated by the government to help young farmers get land and financial facilities to be paid back under a win-win arrangement.
Speaking at the launch of the scheme in Adanla community of Ifelodun Local Government, Kwara Deputy Governor, Kayode Alabi, said half of the beneficiaries would be women.
Alabi added that participants would be provided with inputs, mechanisation and technical support to ensure sustainability.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mariam Muhammad, the deputy governor said: “Today’s programme is another effort at ensuring food security, develop and expand the vast agricultural potential of the state and the nation at large.
“For a nation to achieve food security, we must first ensure transformation of the agricultural sector from the age-long subsistence practice to a productively smart and innovative enterprise that is not only eco-friendly but sustainable.
“This can be achieved by attracting modern techniques in agricultural commodity values in the state. This is essentially the hallmark of the National Youth Farm Programme.
“On our part as a government, we will leave no stone unturned in meaningfully engaging our youths and women in different productive ventures to fight hunger and poverty in our land,” Alabi said.
The Technical Assistant to the Governor on Agriculture, AbdulQowiy Olododo, said the programme was one of the initiatives of Gov. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq’s administration to ensure that youths were gainfully employed.
“Basically, the government has supported with land clearing and this project is being supported by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Sterling Bank and IITA, Ibadan, to engage youths on agribusiness,” he said.
“This is a pilot scheme because it will spread across all the 16 local government areas of the state.
“What we want to achieve is to significantly reduce the rate of unemployment among youths.
“By the time it spreads across the 16 local government areas, you can imagine the ripple effects on the economy.
“It is not in the farm alone; other people along the value chain will benefit from this initiative. So, it is a way of reducing unemployment and engaging our youths productively,” Olododo said.
The Senior Special Assistant to the governor on Community Intervention, Kayode Oyin-Zubair, said the government supported the development of the state through bottom-up approach to ensure even development and reduce rural-urban drift.
“This programme is one of our efforts to develop rural communities and allow rural dwellers to stay in their natural abode.
“The farmers and investors will jointly benefit from the programme. Government will not interfere in the scheme to ensure its success and sustainability. Interference in the past did not allow such programmes to be successful,”Oyin-Zubair said.
Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Job Creation, Aliyu Alhassan, explained that Farm Kwara, which was designed to nurture agripreneurs, would be commercially driven.
“We have technical partners, investors and key stakeholders that will support the programme to guarantee improved yields and empower our people,”Alhassan said.
Elerin of Adanla, Oba David Oyerinola Adedunmoye, commended the state government for not only transforming the economy but for also raising a cream of agriprenuers to make the youth job creators and curb restiveness in the state.
“Today’s event is quite historical because the governor is changing the face of agric sector in the state using Adanla-Irese as a case study.
“This is a clear demonstration and confirmation of the rural transformation agenda among several other laudable programmes which the government is implementing
“On our part, my community has graciously offered an expanse of land for the programme to support the state and the Federal Government in the rebranding of agricultural sector and development of rural areas,” Adedunmoye said.
He urged the government to make the scheme a revolving one to check unemployment and fight poverty in the land.