Kwara launches 500 hectares Youth Farm Scheme per LG
KEHINDE AKINPELU, ILORIN
Kwara State Government on Wednesday launched a pilot scheme of 500-hectare Farm Kwara in Ifelodun local government to create farming communities that nurture future agripreneurs, improve the productivity of smallholder farmers, and boost food security in the state.
Domiciled in the office of the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Nongovernmental Affairs and Team Lead of the National Young Farmers Programme Toyosi Thomas, the Farm Kwara initiative will soon begin the process of accessing 500 hectares of land in other local government areas to establish farm estates and allocate up to five hectares each to 100 young farmers.
The initiative, an offshoot of the recently launched Kwara State Agricultural Transformation Plan, is being facilitated by the government which would help young farmers to get land and financial facilities which would all be paid back under a win-win arrangement.
Speaking at the launch of Farm Kwara in Adanla community of Ifelodun local government, Deputy Governor Kayode Alabi said at least half of the youth beneficiaries would be women and that participants will be provided with inputs, mechanisation and technical support to ensure sustainability in partnership with private sector partners.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary Kwara State Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Mariam Nurudeen Muhammad, the Deputy Governor said: “Today’s programme is another effort at ensuring food security and develop and expand the vast agricultural potential of the state and the nation at large. For a nation to achieve food security, we must first ensure transformation of the agricultural sector from the age-long subsistence practice to a productively smart and innovative enterprise that is not only eco-friendly but sustainable. This can be achieved by attracting modern techniques in agricultural commodity values in the state. This is essentially the hallmark of the National Youth Farm Programme.
“On our part as a government, we will leave no stone unturned in meaningfully engaging our youths and women in different productive ventures to fight hunger and poverty in our land.”
Technical Assistant to the Governor on Agriculture AbdulQowiy Olododo said the programme is one of the initiatives of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq’s administration to ensure that youths are gainfully employed.
“Basically, the government has supported with land clearing and this project is being supported by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Sterling Bank and IITA, Ibadan, to engage the youth on agribusiness,” he said.
“This is a pilot scheme because it will spread across all the 16 local governments of the state. What we want to achieve is to significantly reduce the rate of unemployment among youth. By time it spreads across the 16 local governments, you can imagine the ripple effects on the economy. It is not in the farm alone; other people along the value chain will benefit from this initiative. So, it is a way of reducing unemployment and engaging our youth productively.”
Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Community Intervention Kayode Oyin-Zubair said the government is supporting the development of the state through bottom-up approach to ensure even development and reduce rural-urban drift.
“This programme is one of our efforts to develop rural communities and allow rural dwellers to stay in their natural abode. The farmers and investors will jointly benefit from the programme. Government will not interfere in the scheme to ensure its success and sustainability. Interference in the past did not allow such programmes to be successful,” he added.
Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Job Creation Aliyu Alhassan explained that Farm Kwara, which is designed to nurture agripreneurs, would be commercially-driven.
“We have technical partners, investors and key stakeholders that will support the programme to guarantee improved yields and empower our people,” he said.
He said the state government has already cleared the 500 hectares of land for the benefitting farmers in Adanla, saying the same will be replicated across the 16 local government areas of the state.
“Farm Kwara is one of the programmes put in place by the government to empower and engage the youths across the state. Apart from this, the government is recruiting 4701 teachers into SUBEB and Teaching Service Commission while recruitment is also ongoing into the state civil service commission and Kwara State Internal Revenue Service to reduce unemployment and fight poverty in the state,” he said.
Elerin of Adanla Oba David Oyerinola Adedunmoye commended the state government for not only transforming the economy but for also raising a cream of agriprenuers to make youth job creators and curb youth restiveness in the state.
“Today’s event is quite historic because Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq is changing the face of agricultural sector in the state using Adanla-Irese as a case study. This is a clear demonstration and confirmation of the rural transformation agenda among several other laudable programmes which the government is implementing,” the monarch said.
“On our part, my community has graciously offered an expanse of land for the programme to support the state and federal governments in the rebranding of agriculture and development of rural areas where food comes from.”
Oba Adedunmoye urged the government to make the scheme a revolving one to check unemployment and fight poverty in the land.