Applause as Kwara moves to address rising food insecurity

Date: 2023-04-12

It is lamentable that rising food insecurity has remained till to- day the bane of many households worldwide. Intriguingly, this disturbing scenario is more pronounced across the developing nations of the world, particularly within the African continent.

Incidentally, Nigeria, which prides itself as the ‘Giant of Africa’, is not immune to this unsavory sand unhealthy development. For the record, food insecurity has been defined as a condition of not having access to sufficient food, or access to food of adequate quality, to meet one’s basic needs. Consequently, this results in hunger, malnutrition or undernourishment among the populace.

Sadly, research has shown that no fewer than 800 million people worldwide live every day with hunger or food insecurity as their constant companion, arising largely from ceaseless conflicts, climate change, inflation and rising food prices.

Access to food

In Nigeria, for instance, access to food by the citizenry has been badly impaired by persistent acts of terrorism in the North- east states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.

Ditto for the ravaging armed banditry and kidnapping in such states as Katsina, Sokoto, Kaduna, Benue and Niger, among others, which have eroded whatever gains made in providing food security for all and sundry. It is against this background of the seeming uncertainty and despair that concerted efforts by some governments at both the federal and state levels to boost food security, notwithstanding certain identifiable hiccups, are taken cognisance of and acknowledged.

It is little wonder, therefore, that the move by the Kwara State government under the watch of Governor AbdulRahman Abdul- Razaq to partner with the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) towards enhancing food security and tackling poverty head on in the State of Harmony, among other strides, has won wide applause from the populace.

To this end, the state government had earlier disclosed its readiness to set up an Agro-Industrial Processing Zone project for the improvement and diversification of agriculture, not only in Kwara but also across the country.

SAPZ project

Governor AbdulRazaq made the government’s intention known at the recent 1st Supervision Mission of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) to Kwara State for the commencement of the Special Agro-industrial Processing Zone (SAPZ) project in the state.

The governor, who was represented at the epoch making event by the state’s Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Abdullateef Gidado Alakawa, expressed the commitment of his administration to revolutionizing agriculture in the state towards nipping food insecurity and poverty in the bud in the state, optimistic that at the end of the day the expansion of food production capacity and efficiency would be witnessed across the state. Towards ensuring the realization of the dream, the governor disclosed that his ad- ministration has signed a Legal Opinion and Subsidiary Loan Agreement with the Islamic Development Bank for the commencement of the Special Agro-Industrial Hub on livestock, with special interest in dairy production and processing, adding that the project would be jointly funded by the IsDB and the state government. AbdulRazaq, who explained that the SAPZ Project has been declared disbursement-effective, enumerated the immense benefits the agricultural project would offer the people of Kwara State.

He said: “The hub will go a long way in reducing the importation of dairy products by improving milk production, reducing milk wastages and contamination, improving our dairy breeds and production methods and transforming the overall milk value chain and the economies and livelihoods of the people of Kwara State, particularly livestock farmers.

“As the state begins a synergy with the Islamic Development Bank and other stake- holders in the quest to transform rural economies into viable and sustainable commercial ventures, the Special Agro-Processing and Commercialisation Hub is expected to turn around things for farmers as well as rural dwellers, among others, in the state.”

IsDB speaks

In his remarks, the Operation Team Leader from the IsDB, Mr. Javed Khan, applauded the efforts of the Kwara State government in ensuring that the agricultural project has reached the commencement stage, describing the Agro-Industrial Processing Hub as a monumental achievement and a unique model in the history of the country.

He explained that the signing of the Subsidiary Loan Agreement by the Kwara State Government with the IsDB indicated the state government’s commitment and readiness for the implementation of the project in the state as well as seeing it to fruition. Khan, who explained that the implementation of the project would span four to five years, specifically lauded the state government for recommending qualified hands to handle the project.

Earlier, the State Coordinator of the Kwara-SAPZ project, Engr. Dr. Busari Toyin Isiaka, had explained that the six broad components of the project include infrastructure development and Agro-industrial hub management; agricultural productivity and production; consultancy services.

Others, he said, are project coordination and management; financial audit; and contingency emergency response components. Busari disclosed that the state government has set up necessary machinery for the seamless take off of the SAPZ project to deliver efficiently, saying the state has taken a lead among the participating states in the country.

Inspection mission

Speaking on the significance of the inspection mission, the State Coordinator said the inspection team also used the occasion to review the project components and activities, procurement and disbursement procedures.

On the inspection team were the Operation Team Leader, Javed Khan (from IsDB); Project Management Specialist, Sabiu Awal (from IsDB); Mr. Muktar Amansa (from the Federal Ministry of Finance), among others. Speaking on the side-lines of the event, a social critic, Comrade Bamidele Ilufoye, lauded Governor AbdulRazaq for initiating the programme, which if well and properly implemented, he noted, would truly launch the state on the path of food sufficiency for the people, particularly the dairy production.

The development, he said, was a forebode of more monumental strides to be witnessed from the administration of Governor Abdul- Razaq in the next dispensation. He said: “This agricultural project to be embarked on by the Kwara State Government is laudable and it should be supported by all and sundry towards breaking the yoke of poverty and food insecurity in the state. It is a good thing that the Governor has won re-election to consolidate on the gains of the last four years. He needs the support of the people of the state to enable him succeed and deliver more dividends of democracy to the citizenry.”

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