Gov. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara on Wednesday launched an agricultural input subsidy scheme that would give about 10,000 farmers in the state access to various inputs at 50 per cent market price.
The governor told farmers in Ilorin that the intervention, tagged: ‘Beta Yield’, was in line with the state’s strategic plan for food security and sustainable development.
The scheme, he said, became necessary to boost food production in the state and compensate for the losses experienced by farmers in the last farming season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This subsidy scheme gives our farmers easy access to certified seeds, assorted fertilisers and herbicides for the 2021 planting season at 50 per cent market price.
“This initiative is part of the administration’s sustained efforts to use agriculture to drive economic growth and food security in the post COVID-19 pandemic era.
“I assure you that mechanisms have been put in place, especially reliable data, to ensure that these inputs get only to the intended farmers.
“This programme is basically to improve productivity. We have to bring this subsidy, because our farmers went through a lot of hardship last year with COVID-19.
“So, we needed to step in to enable them to get fertilisers, improved seedlings and herbicides to boost production.
“It is not just about food security in Kwara state, but in Nigeria as a whole. Farmers are farming largely without any problem in Kwara; we only need to support them.
“The aim is to achieve food security in Nigeria, not just in Kwara; from animal husbandry to all other facets of agriculture,” AbdulRazaq said.
According to the governor, Kwara is also working out a partnership with the Lagos State Government on rice production, which may attract about N10 billion investment over the next four years.
“We have the land. We are negotiating with some states, especially Lagos state.
“Lagos has, arguably, the biggest rice mill in Nigeria today, but they don’t have land.
“We want to take advantage of that and we are talking in that direction to have an MoU. And then, the Federal Government is working with us.
“We are working on the special agroprocessing zone to be located in Lata, which will see the investment of about N10 billion going to agriculture in Edu and Patigi local governments alone in the next two to four years; so we need to scale up what we are doing in those areas,” the governor added.
He urged the farmers to make good use of the opportunity to have a more rewarding farming experience in 2021, adding that the efforts will lead to better outcome and improved livelihood across the state.
Hajia Maryam Nurudeen, the Permanent Secretary, Kwara Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, explained that the scheme was designed to enhance and improve the productivity of the farmers.
“This scheme has been conceptualised to enhance the productivity of farmers and it is not only limited to improve the standard of living of thousands of household across the 16 LGAs of the state, but also to encourage mass participation of farmers, including women in farming activities, most especially among our teeming youths,” she said.
Also, the Technical Assistant to the governor on Agriculture, Mr AbdulQuawiy Olododo, said the scheme would provide access to farmers to secure certified and improved seedlings and boost production of farmers.
“The flag-off of Kwara State Agricultural Inputs Subsidy Scheme today is an offshoot of the Kwara State Agricultural Transformation Plan, launched in January this year.
“At the unveiling, it was stated that the plan will ensure that Kwara state is food secured and we have 27 implementable programmes that will bring farmers out of poverty and boost (food) production in the state,” Olododo said.
Mr Ojo Olayiwola, the Chairman of the state House of Assembly Committee on Agriculture, commended the state government for placing high premium on the agricultural sector with several supports to farmers in the state.