Diversification: Kwara Lawmakers' proactive step towards achieving food security
By Shuaib Abdulkadir
The Kwara State House of Assembly, particularly the 8th Legislature, for the umpteenth time has not only proven its acumen in lawmaking business, but the members have on several occasions demonstrated to other lawmakers in Nigeria how things should be done to impact positively on the lives of their constituents. This, the 8th Assembly has done efficiently and seemingly effortlessly, through several important motions raised and bills passed in the last two years.
Despite the House not having any opposition member, the 8th Assembly under Rt. Hon. Dr. Ali Ahmad’s leadership always expresses its determination and commitment to leaving good legacies behind and importantly surpassing their predecessors’ achievements.
For the lawmakers ,"thinking out of the box " and "walking the talk" are not mere catchphrases or slogans but indicators of collective desire to achieve enviable heights without necessarily reinventing the wheel. It is trite wisdom that Kwara State , indeed Nigeria, is blessed and endowed with agricultural potentials and possibility. Volumes of farm produce go to waste yearly as farming in the country remain devoid of critical value chain.
In walking the talk of the need for Kwara State to achieve its potentials as agriculture hub , the legislators on Thursday, 3rd of August 2017 inaugurated their private farm, Dodo Integrated Farm situated at Agogo village in Ejidongari, Moro Local Government Area of the state. The initiative, it is believed, is the first of its kind in the history of legislature in Nigeria with 300 hectares of farmland cultivated by the lawmakers largely for production of soya beans and maize.
The idea conceived about four months ago was initially received with misgivings when the speaker first mentioned it on the floor as many believed it was another form of playing politics with people’s psyche. On the other hand, the legislators were unperturbed as they gradually went on with their plans to proof to the world that the idea was realisable with sheer commitment and determination. Equally, it was a great way of demonstrating to thousands unemployed Kwarans that agriculture is another way to display their potentials, be their own boss and earn legitimate money rather than waiting endlessly for white shrinking white collar jobs.
Fortunately, it was about the time when the Kwara State Government received N1 billion Agric loan facility from the Central Bank of Nigeria and interested farmers were called upon to apply. The lawmakers also took advantage of the facility and began the implementation of Dodo Integrated Farm. Since then, it has been a success story.
Conducting journalists round the farm recently, the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Dr. Ali Ahmad who expressed satisfaction with the level of work done at the farm said that the lawmakers were convinced to expend huge amount of money in commercial agriculture as a result of the need to diversify national economy.
Disclosing that the lawmakers obtained N40 million agricultural loan Dr Ahmad stressed that it was high time every Nigerians saw farming as a must for the nation to attain food security and economic buoyancy.
The Speaker further disclosed that the legislators have also concluded arrangements to embark on cultivation of maize and beans, adding that their visit to the farm was to create awareness on the need for interested individuals to emulate the initiative of the lawmakers.
Particularly, he stated that engaging in farming would unlock the key potentials in every individual and especially among the unemployed youths who are hellbent on securing white collar jobs.
He also charged local government chairmen and workers in the country to embrace practical agricultural practices with a view to boost food security and discourage idleness in their respective councils.
As the state prepares for council polls by November 4th, the speaker further charged the electorate to vote for only local government chairmanship candidates with agricultural plans for their areas.
“Local government election is coming in the state. Ask anyone contesting for chairmanship position what he plans to do with Head of Department Agric, farm and about 100 supervisors for Agric, and staff going to local
government councils to sit down and lazy away. We have been blaming the federal government and state governments. The NLC in charge of labour should rise up.
“Kwara should challenge incoming local government chairmen what they want to. Each local government can have about 300 to 500 hectares of farmland to cultivate. See us. We are only 24, and there are many of them in local government councils. They can easily pay workers salary from the proceeds of the agricultural activities”.
In his remarks, the Chairman, Dodo Integrated Farm Board of Trustees, Hon. Kamaldeen Fagbemi said the board was established to ensure monitoring of the farm and allow for transparency.
The Chairman, House Committee on Water and Agriculture, Hon. Ishyaku Aliyu Adams said the lawmakers acquired 750 hectares of land and would soon embark on maize production.
While commending members for their support and cooperation since the commencement of the project, he also appreciated the Speaker for believing in the committee members’ ability to deliver on the gigantic project.
Also speaking, the state Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mr. Bamidele Adegoke who underscored the determination of the Kwara State Government in using agriculture to stimulate the economy, through wealth creation pledged government continuous support to provide necessary support to ensure the farm succeed.
Similarly, the Senior Special Assistant to the governor on Legislative Matters, Hon. Kayode Omotoshe lamented the situation where Nigeria was importing N1 billion worth of rice consumption per day, noting that God has blessed the country with arable land to cultivate whichever crop either for consumption or export to other countries and get foreign exchange.
It is noteworthy to state that the legislator’s initiative would undoubtedly serve as encouragement to individuals, groups and thousand agile youths in the state who probably could have lost hope about their future or hell-bent on securing white collar jobs.
Also, it is expected that Kwara State House of Assembly members would sustain the tempo by improving on the challenges encountered and further strive to increase on their present size of farmland, which would in no small measure serve as big achievement for their predecessors to work towards.
Similarly, it behoves on other houses of assembly in the country to emulate their Kwara counterpart’s efforts and see the idea as a way of improving their various state through practical agricultural practices.
It is pertinent to point out that agriculture is the only activity the constitution permits civil servants and political office holders and others to engage in; therefore, it was an easy decision for the legislators to delve into farming by establishing their farm as a way of contributing their quota to improving food production in Kwara and Nigeria at large.