The Kwara State Governor, Dr. Abdulfatah Ahmed, has disclosed that his administration has disbursed about N1 billion to 500 small holders farmers and forty commercial farmers in the state.
Besides, the governor said 381 kilometers of rural roads will be rehabilitated in 2018 under the Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project in partnership with the World Bank and the Federal Government.
Speaking at the opening of the 2nd Harmony Agriculture International Fair at the Banquet Hall, Ilorin, Ahmed said the small holder farmers were also provided access to 2,550 hectares of land across the state.
The Governor said the Off-Takers Demand Driving Agriculture Scheme is an empowerment programme formulated to drive employment, boost food production and diversify the state’s economy by matching farmers with Off-Takers.
He noted that over the years, his administration had embarked on various intervention programmes aimed at entrenching attitudinal change towards agriculture in the state like the Back to Farm, the Youth Farm Centre and the Off-Takers Demand Driven Agriculture Scheme which, he said, is directly linked with “our commercial agriculture initiative”.
According to him: “ODDA is designed to build an agribusiness ecosystem that will reduce food importation, enhance foreign exchange and more importantly create sustainable livelihoods for our people, especially youths and women.”
Ahmed said by the time the harvest season commences, the state will witness the emergence of a new generation of prosperous youth farmers, adding that the HAGIF has become a symbiotic partner with ODDA scheme through its Agribusiness Division.
Earlier, the Chairman of Harmony Holdings, Prof. Halidu Abubakar, said the financial support of the state government to the company made it possible for it to give out loans to over 100 cooperatives and about 1,000 farmers, addting that the goal is to compliment the efforts, policies and programmes of the state government in the agricultural transformation agenda.
The Group Managing Director, Harmony Holdings, Tope Daramola, said all the profiled farmers to which the money was disbursed already have off-takers that buy their produce when mature.
Daramola said the support of the state government is unquantifiable.