Agricultural experts have called on the Kwara Governor-elect, Abdurrahman Abdulrazaq to focus more on agriculture to generate employment for the youths and boost the revenue of the state.
The experts made the call on Friday in Ilorin in papers they delivered at the opening of a two-day workshop organised by the Kwara Transition Committee set up by the Governor-elect.
The theme of the workshop was “Realizing the agricultural potentials of Kwara State — the Value Chain Approach”.
The experts commended Abdulrazaq for seeking practical answers to how the state can harness its agricultural potentials, generate employment and generate funds for development.
Kingsley Olurinde, an Agricultural Economist from the Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute (ARMTI), Ilorin said Kwara can become Nigeria’s agriculture hub if the incoming administration invest in infrastructure, irrigation and proper harnessing of the agricultural value chain.
Olurinde was of the view that the state has the potential to be food and nutrition-secure if it puts the right measures in place.
“Kwara has good volume of surface and underground water. But the irrigation facilities are just not there.
Once rain ceases, there is a problem. No country in the world develops from rain-fed agriculture.
Kwara must invest in irrigation to allow for all-year-round farming,” the Agriculture expert said.
Olurinde said the new government must also invest in rural roads, schools, healthcare centers, and micro credit scheme to stimulate interest in farming and make the people truly productive.
An agricultural expert from the University of Ilorin, Dr Sam Okunade, said the workshop was a practical demonstration of the Governor-elect’s interest in truly harnessing the state’s agricultural potentials.
Okunade therefore tasked the incoming government to study how the regional governments of Obafemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello and Michael Okpara developed their regions with strict development of the agricultural value chains.
He urged the incoming government to establish a scheme with a focus to train, fund and empower young graduates to farm as a deliberate way of tackling unemployment.
Okunade also called for law reforms, such as the land tenure system, to make access to land easy for prospective commercial farmers.
Earlier, in his welcome address, Chairman of the Transition Committee, Aminu Adisa Logun said the initiative was meant to bring experts from across Nigeria to add more value to the work the committee has done in the past four weeks.
He said the workshop focused on agriculture and women and youth empowerment after the committee identified them as key drivers of sustainable growth.
Logun said the committee has gathered and processed a lot of quality information and data which he hope would help the new administration to hit the ground running after inauguration on May 29.
According to him, the topics treated at the workshop represented the core areas of the economy that can help the new administration to transform the state.
He listed the topics to include; “Unlocking the agricultural potential of Kwara State; Next level: Kwara can be self-sufficient in fish production; Agribusiness: women and youth engagement in a market-friendly development sector and Transforming Kwara’s agricultural value chain through mechanization.
Others were “Enhancement of productivity of rural farmers through irrigation; Exploring investment opportunities in the agribusiness value chain; Governance and Women empowerment in Kwara State.
It also includes “Women Economic Empowerment — Driving Sustainable Development in Kwara State; and Green Initiative Solutions (Kwara GIS).