Open letter to Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrasak, Gubernatorial Candidate, APC ,Kwara State.
By Abubakar Gold
Your Excellency Sir,
REJUVENATING THE AGRICULTURE LANDSCAPE IN KWARA STATE TO BETTER SERVE THE PEOPLE AND ENHANCE THE ECONOMY
I take honour in writing to you at this critical time in the history of our dear state of Kwara to be counted in the struggle to liberate our state from the stranglehold of the leeches who have taken our state hostage and profiteered from the situation thereof by corruptly enriching themselves to an un-imaginable scale to the detriment of the people of our dear state.
I write to join the struggle to put our state on a trajectory of real prosperity by highlighting some measures especially in the field of agriculture which I have been actively involved in resent past.
It may interest you sir that I Abubakar Gold graduated from Federal University of Technology Minna, from the Department of Chemical Engineering (B.Eng) Second Class Honours (upper division) in the year 2010 after which I was deployed to serve in Ondo State.
Immediately after my service year I took to the field of agriculture primarily driven by my passion for nature which dates back to my years growing up in the quarters of river Basin development authority. It was always a beauty to behold when I walk around in the estate and see the evergreen landscape with plantations of guava, mango, orange, cashew, tomato and green grass for cattle to graze. And what makes it more beautiful is that this feature was there all year round supported by an effective irrigation scheme.
The inhabitant of this estate had the opportunity of accessing fresh food, fruits, and meat from there abattoir. Sir, it was my idea of the ideal way to live. But overtime these features started fading away, and gradually went into extinction due to inconsistent government policy and lack of appropriate funding, and the inability to evolve with the changing times of agriculture.
Your excellency, it is on the back of this that I developed my passion for agriculture which informed my decision to set up a poultry of 4000 capacity laying birds along Okolowo – madala area, I also set up a fish farm with 6 standard ponds in Egbejila area.
The amazing thing however in my years of experience in the Kwara State Agric landscape is the inability of the government to spot and tap the potentials inherent in the agric sector of the state.
At the Egbejila area of Ilorin, there exist the Asa river which I personally consider an abundant blessing to the state because water bodies of Asa’s magnitude could be used to provide portable water for citizenry, irrigation during dry season and to generate electricity. But in Kwara today apart from the fact that this river is where the Kwara State water works derives its source of water to provide for the inhabitant of Ilorin city, Asa river is grossly under utilized as it pertains to agriculture to the extent that no visible irrigation activity inspite of the river’s capacity to irrigate a substantial land mass of arable land.
The under-utilization of the river is evident as a tour of the river path clearly shows a negligible to zero activity along the bank of the river especially in the dry season. The same is the case of the river bank along the flood plains of river Niger in the Kwara North senatorial district of the state where the little activity that exist thereof is at a small scale which could easily be scaled up to a commercial scale with the right farming tools and extension support.
This is in sharp contrast to what obtains along Mokwa Bida road along the river path of river Kaduna at Wuya which boast of substantial agricultural activity in the dry season with large landmass of Sugar Cane under cultivation. It is also in sharp contrast to what obtains along Zaria Kano highway with the hadeja jamare irrigation scheme where the water body along that path is appropriately utilized to irrigate over 10,000 hectares of arable farmland.
Your Excellency sir, Kwara could easily become an economically prosperous state if the agriculture sector is well harnessed and with an unflinching political will to make it happen by promulgating the right policies. The agriculture revolution could be done in Kwara as it was done in Brazil which now has agriculture contributing 65.8 billion dollars to her economy larger than the Nigerian yearly budget. In doing so, millions of jobs were created. The same could be replicated in Kwara state with the right people on board that have the energy and vision as well as the commitment to see Kwara prosper.
Your excellency, to start with in Kwara we could easily adopt the one man one hectare program where the intending participant in the program will be encouraged to have one hectare under his/her supervision, the ministry of agriculture will be saddled with providing the farm machinery and extension support as well as providing improved seedlings and guarantee timely fertilizer supply. Weather forecast to guild farmers in making informed decisions will also be provided by the ministry. The state under the ministry of agriculture will be responsible to lias with reliable insurance companies to provide insurance cover for farmland under cultivation. This will reduce the risk inherent in farming for farmers. The government will also provide storage facilities in form of silos for grains and other storage facilities to ensure that farmers are not liable to post harvest losses.
I lay emphasis on the role of government as against private sector participation which is usually profit driven and may not be sustainable in the early stages of the revolution because the gains of the revolution will require time to manifest. Overtime once the right conditions are put in place and the results are evident for all to see, the process can then be liberized to encourage private sector participation.
It is quite obvious with the recent revolution going on at the federal level that government will have to lead from the front especial in the agriculture sector revolution as most of the financial institutions are always unwilling to lend to the agric sector more so at the ridiculous interest rate of 25% above. Therefore it took the intervention of the government through the CBN anchor borrower program to create the kind of activity which led to a drop in importation of rice, and the creation of jobs into the economy hence my view that the revolution will require the government to lead from the front.
Your excellency from the southern part of Kwara to the northern part of the state and the central part of Kwara, with the right policy, we could evolve a one crop one district policy to enhance the comparative advantage of each district by farming the crop with the most economic value in commercial scale to contribute to the GDP of the state.
Lastly, the market for the harvested farm produces which is the ultimate end of any enterprise or endeavour.
The local market is viable with the Nigerian population of over 190 million people and projected to be 450 million by 2050, it is safe to say food crop will always be in high demand. The international market currently also has a very high demand for cashew nut, cocoa, soybean, we could therefore have an on the side policy that will be tailored towards meeting these needs as it is expected to increase in the near future with consumer taste changing to more healthy diet devoid of cholesterol.
The state could also establish relationship with the Nigeria export promotion council (NEPC) to constantly and continuously abreast the state of crops with high international appeal so as to tailor production in favour of such crops.
Your excellency, it may interest you to note that the cashew export from Nigeria in the last three years is as follows:
2015 160,000 tonnes $152,000,000
2016 186,000 tonnes $259,000,000
2017 220,000 tonnes $402,000,000
The cashew nut export contributed a huge chunk to the Nigerian non-oil export in the years under-review.
Your excellency, I will like to state unequivocally that going by your submission to give due attention to Kwara State agriculture sector is the reason that informed my decision to write hoping that you will find a thing or two useful from my thought, I will also like to add that it will be an honour if you will allow me serve on your agric team to rejuvenate the agriculture space of our dear state and put it on the right trajectory of prosperity.
At 30 years of age sir, I have the energy, passion, desire and love to serve my people and be the face of the youth in your government to write a new narrative of the Nigeria youth with the mindset of service and an ability to channel his energy towards bringing about a life time change and a new order in his state’s agric landscape.
Thank you sir and God bless you as you undertake the herculean task of leading the liberation of our state from the hegemony of a greedy few. Be rest assured that I am not only with you in thought and in prayers, I also have my voter’s card ready to cast my vote in your favour. I have also taken time to enlighten a number of electorate on the need to have you on the saddle of the affairs of our dear state.
In all honesty sir you certainly have the pedigree, clout, exposure, charisma, vision and the love of the people of kwara state at heart. It is also heart warming sir to inform you that you have a high degree of acceptability amongst citizenry/electorate and your “o to ge” slogan as become a form of tsunami sweeping across the state ready to unsurp any hinderance that may want to stand in its way.
God bless kwara state, and God bless the federal republic of Nigeria.