BY DEMOLA AKINYEMI
ILORIN — Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State has urged the Federal Government to evolve an agricultural policy that will effectively trickle down to the grassroots and have the desired maximum impact of creating wealth, food security, generating massive employment among others in the nation, stressing that without agriculture, Nigeria cannot move forward.
Ahmed, who played host to the Management of Vanguard Media Limited led by Eze Anaba, Deputy Editor and Assistant General Manager (Brand), Mr Fred Odueme, in his office in Ilorin explained that it was not possible to design and support agricultural framework from the central government without the necessary synergy with the state and local governments and expect it produce result.
VISIT: From left— Mr. Eze Anaba, Deputy Editor; Mr. Fred Udueme, AGM, Brand, both of Vanguard Newspapers; Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State; Mr. Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor of Vanguard Newspapers, during a courtesy call on the Governor by the management of Vanguard Media Limited in Ilorin.
He noted that the agriculture policy of the Federal Government had not been fully integrated into every state, stressing that the states have more passion for agriculture than any other state in the country.
He said: “Why can’t the Federal Government isolate us as willing partners and create a synergy that will see each state bringing its own portion, the Federal Government bringing its own portion on an agreed policy driven programme and we begin to take ownership of these programmes under the monitoring structure of the Federal Government? That is when you begin to see the real impact of agriculture coming from the federal to state and the local government, otherwise it will still be a mirage.”
Laments failed agricultural policies
The governor also lamented that various agricultural policies of the Federal Government in the past which were supposed to see agriculture taking the right position and moving the country’s economy forward have failed.
Reasons he cited for failure of the past agriculture policies include lack of strong agriculture policy, inability of the nation’s leadership to work out a platform to grow an agric business in the country, and the fact that over the years, we have largely been feeding ourselves through subsistence farming and the lack of attempt to transform this subsistence farming to commercial farming.
Ahmed also urged the leadership to toe the path of the countries in Africa that have moved from “low level” to “high level” largely because of the way they drive their agriculture policies to change the fortune of their economy for the better.
Urges African countries to develop raw materials
While noting that majority of the African countries have been major suppliers of raw material, the governor urged African countries to have the capacity to develop their raw materials and integrate it in order to transform to a truly GDP that will sustain growth and development.
Ahmed said Kwara State had since realised all of these, hence it has skewed its efforts towards a platform that would see the state transforming itself into a much more enabling platform that will be attractive to prospective investors in agriculture.
He said that though so much had been said about the commercial farming in Shonga, which he declared as a success story,”but one thing is crystal clear, we understand commercial farming in Kwara today better than any state in Nigeria. We know the challenges of setting up the commercial farming, we know the huge gap that exists between commercial farming and subsistence farming and we know what we need to do to move our farmers from subsistence farming to commercial farming. These are lessons we have learnt and which we are ready to translate into a working tool to drive our subsistence farmers to truly become a first set of commercial farmers in the country.”
He said that Kwara State was lucky to be transiting from one government to the other so it hadmoved beyond the problem of improper planning and lack of strong agriculture policies and moving towards shaping a state that will truly become an agric hub in Nigeria.
In this light, the governor said: ‘’We are mapping out a clearly articulated, methodically designed roadmap for agric development for next five years. We call it Kwara agric master plan. We commissioned University of Ilorin, Kwara State University and Corneil University of New York to evolve the master plan.”
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