The Kwara State government under its Off-takers Demand Driven Agriculture scheme (OODA) has disbursed about N1bn to 500 small holder farmers and 40 commercial farmers across the State.
The State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed made this disclosure while declaring open the 2nd Harmony Agric International Fair (HAGIF) in Ilorin, the State capital on Monday.
He said that the farmers were also provided access to 2550 hectares of land in different parts of the State where various crops were planted. He expressed confidence that when the harvest season commences, the state will witness the emergence of new generation of prosperous youth famers.
Alhaji Ahmed explained that the ODDA is an empowerment programme formulated to drive employment, boost food production and diversify the State’s economy by linking farmers with Off-Takers.
He added that the scheme was designed to build an agribusiness ecosystem that will reduce food importation, enhance foreign exchange and more importantly, create sustainable livelihoods for the people, especially youths and women.
The Governor said that over the years, his administration has embarked on various intervention programmes aimed at entrenching attitudinal change towards agriculture in the State such as the “Back to Farm” and the Youth Farm Centre.
He noted that by virtue of the Fair, the government looks forward to seeing Nigerian farmers that are capable of taking advantage of technologies and products of research to multiply their yields.
According to the governor, the fair would also build a crop of farmers who are familiar with products of agricultural research and innovation that will enable them expand their productivity and profitability.
Ahmed noted that his administration is investing in road networks and efficient transportation system that will enhance farm-to-market linkage, which he noted is crucial to the development of agriculture.
He disclosed that 381km of rural roads will be rehabilitated in 2018 under the Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP) in partnership with the World Bank and the Federal Government.
The governor, therefore pledged his administration's commitment to work with the network of investors, farmers, processors, and other stakeholders represented at the fair to deepen the supporting structure to ensure prosperity across the value chain.
Earlier in his address, the Chairman, Harmony Holdings, Professor Halidu Abubakar commended the State government for its financial support to the company which he said made it possible for the company to disburse loans to over 100 cooperatives in the state as well as curb wastage as farmers are linked to off-takers.
Also speaking at the fair, the Group Managing Director, Harmony Holdings, Mr Tope Daramola commended the inclusive agricultural policy of the Ahmed-led administration. He promised that the agric fair will complement the efforts of the State government.