Farmers and other agricultural stakeholders in Kwara State have lamented the deplorable state of the sector in the state and called for its restructuring and repositioning.
The call, which was made by the Kwara Agriculture Network, was contained in a communique issued after a town hall meeting of the state’s farmers.
The statement signed by the Network’s Chairman, Al-Mustapha Ibrahim, also contained the opinions of various industry stakeholders and experts.
The group noted that the, “current state of the agriculture industry in our dear state is disheartening. Despite the numerous efforts of the state government under the leadership of AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, we are not seeing the growth and development that we need to sustain our economy and feed our population. It is clear that an immediate restructuring of the sector is necessary to address these issues and ensure a prosperous future for our state.”
In the communique, the group listed key areas that stakeholders, including the Kwara State government, must improve to help its citizens cushion the increasing inflation and fuel subsidy removal.
Among key issues that should be addressed urgently are, “issues associated with government bureaucracy, lack of innovations, poor funding of the sector, poor mechanisation, poor access to farm inputs, especially quality seeds and fertiliser, and low access to processing and value addition facilities.
“In addition, food security in the state is further threatened by soil degradation, ongoing flooding in some parts of the state, and problem of climate change. The current state of agriculture has proven to be ineffective in addressing the needs of farmers and promoting sustainable agricultural practices.”
The stakeholders, therefore, called for a repositioning of the sector to better serve the agricultural community and ensure the long-term success of the industry.
Furthermore, the communique identified challenges confronting the state’s farmers to include “security threat; inadequate funding resulting in limited capacity to implement programmes and agricultural initiatives; lack of maintenance for agricultural machineries such as tractors, bulldozers, sprayers, etc; high prices of poultry feed resulting in unprofitable ventures; outdated technology and processes leading to inefficiencies and delays in decision-making; and political interferences for several agricultural interventions and schemes.”
To tackle the listed challenges, the stakeholders urged the government to, “increase funding especially through provision of resources for irrigation for year round farming; create, update, and utilise an up-to-date farmer database which will be used as the sole basis for government agricultural interventions; partner with CSOs/NGOs in the distribution of grains and fertilisers to famers to accommodate farmers in rural and sub-urban regions of the state; partner with research institutions to provide a lasting solution to increasing prices of poultry feed.”
Other solutions proffered include the implementation of new policies and programmes that will address farmers-herders clashes, to promote growth and development in the agriculture industry; increased collaboration with local farmers and stakeholders to entertain feedback and evaluate agricultural interventions; conduct of quarterly town hall meetings with farmers and stakeholders to ensure their needs are met; distribution of fertilisers and seeds to farmers through organised farmers’ cooperatives.”
The communique also urged the government to “procure and/or repair tractors, bulldozers and other farm implements for each of the local government areas of the state; partner with agricultural companies in adoption of latest agricultural technologies such as agricultural drones used for spraying to enhance farmers’ output; open a certified registration unit for agricultural cooperatives across local governments in partnership with relevant stakeholders.”
To ensure prompt and effective execution of the proffered solutions that will guarantee restructuring of the agricultural sector, the Network gave a timeline of one month for the formation of a task force to assess the current state of agriculture and develop a restructuring plan and a time frame of between six and 12 months for the implementation of new policies and programmes.
According to the group, “restructuring of the agricultural sector will have direct impact on farmers and consumers through improved food security, reduced poverty and cushion the impact of fuel subsidy removal. Furthermore, an improved agricultural sector will bring about economic development, youth engagement and improve IGR (Internally Generated Revenue) of the state.
“Similarly, restructuring will result in more foreign direct investments and public private partnerships. Private sector-driven initiatives such as online agricultural portal as well as farmer-centered mobile applications are long overdue in providing enabling environment for agriculture to thrive in the state.”