Following the dwindling in the price of oil which has been the major source of income to the country, and the negative effect it has on the allocation that goes into the pulse of state government every month, it becomes compulsory for state governors to think out of box but how many states have taken the bull by the horn? In this piece, BODE OLAGOKE, compares the efforts of the Kano state government in Agriculture with others states.

For years now, the talk of diversification from the oil as the major source of income has been on the lips of governments at all levels but implementation of such lofty ideal was, however, a serious challenge to political office holders.

Until May 29, 2015, Kano state was one of the states without oil and was still being confronted with lack of political will to bring to fruition the much talked about diversification.

Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje led administration, has, however, attained what it was seem to be unattainable with Agricultural Performance Survey (APS) Conducted in partnership with National Agricultural Extension and Research liaison Services (NAERLS) of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, rated the state as viable, resourceful and self reliance.

Giving the status of Kano as the most populous state in the country that plays host to hundreds of millions of people from other parts of the country and even neighbouring countries who troop in on daily bases to transact business and engage in various commercial activities, it Will be difficult to venture into questioning why Governor Ganduje’s administration with its foresight will give a thought investing vigorously in agriculture sector.

This latest attainment wouldn’t have possible without strong collaborations being champion by the Kano Agricultural Agency with prominent local and international organizations like United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Dangote group of Companies, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), IAR, NAERLS, NAPRI, SG 2000, GIZ, ZASTAL, IITA, ICRISAT, CDA, MFB, ABCOA, GEMs programs among others.

The aim of survey conducted is to assess the overall performance of field crops in the state and to provide basis for research and policy decision.

The survey also gave opportunity to review areas of collaborations, develop a comprehensive agricultural database for the state, and chart a new course for agricultural development in the state, even as the collaborators pledged their continued support to KNARDA and the state government.

Worth of note is the KNARDA’s collaboration with ICRISAT in a project tagged “Groundnut up scaling in Kano State” in seven selected LGAs of the State. The project is to among others, enhance farmer’s knowledge on improved groundnut production techniques, seed production and marketing, access to small scale processing technology, as well as aflatoxin management practices. The project so far established seven hectares seed production plots and trained selected extension agents across the state.

Again, KNARDA entered into collaboration with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in a project tagged “Cowpea up scaling”. The project is to showcase best varieties of cowpea to farmers, thereby increasing their productivity. The project also encourages community seed production at community levels. The project procured and distributed inputs worth of NGN 2,000,000 to farmers across the state free of charge.

KNARDA and ICRISAT entered into a collaborative project tagged “Tropical legume iii cowpea seed system” with the purpose of bringing about increase in production and productivity of cowpea in a bid to attain sufficiency in nutritional value, improve farmers’ welfare and income. Today,  this collaborations have recorded so much achievements, notably is the training of 1050 farmers and mobilization of farmers across 30 communities covered by the project.

Also, the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP) entered into collaboration with KNARDA known as WAAPP-KNARDA Project. A lot of achievements have been recorded  in this regard, notably are,  disbursement  of the sum of NGN 4, 372,222.62 as assistance to local seed producers; training of 72 farmers and extension agents on safe and effective use of pesticides, environmental issues, and seed certification.

There is also Commercial Agriculture (CADP) and Fadama iii additional financing Projects that are World Bank assisted carried out several activities and recorded tremendous successes especially in the area of roads construction and empowerment of women and youths in the state under the current administration.

These collaborative efforts of the Ganduje administration has not only led to recruitment of 729 extension workers that are not in existence in other states across the federation, training and retraining of the newly recruited extension workers jointly with national and international development agencies scuch as IITA, ICRISAT, SG 2000, Markets ii, CDA among others has also put the state ahead of many others.

To encourage and bring out the best from the recruited extension workers, the Ganduje led state government approved distribution of motorcycles on loan basis and on 40% discount to the staff.

Moreso, disilling of Watari Irrigation Project in Bagwai LGA, Training of 60 youths in artificial insemination( AI) at the republic of Turkey, disbursement of 16 Motorcycles courtesy of GIZ (NGO), distribution of 5000 units of  water pumps to fadama farmers free of charge and provision of 1000 units of tube wells and wash bores to fadama farmers free of charge which is still on-going, are laudable achievements which can be verified.

Others are: One hundred and Fifty Million Naira (NGN 150, 000,000) loan to Wheat farmers association through the state Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, CBN/ Kano state Rice Anchor Borrowers Program which still on-going in the state, CBN /Kano State Wheat Anchor Borrowers Program also on-going in the state and the laudable one Billion Naira (1,000,000,000) disbursed to commercial farmers in the state on loan basis recently among other achievements are feat whoth boasting of.

Moreover, the present administration had revived and put to use the over 20 years abandoned KASCO for the production of fertilizer and also purchased new harvester machines among others.

Just at the weekend, the governor Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, flagged off the 2016 Rainy Season Recovery from CBN /KNSG Rice Anchor Borrowers program at Kadawa seed processing plant Garun Malam Local government in the outskirts of the state.

The event which was an interactive session between the governor, representatives of several stakeholders like Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Bank of Agriculture (BOA), farmers association, and the farmers directly focused on the success and otherwise of the anchor borrower programme which has made Kano to be the number one rice producer, by producing 1/6 of Nigeria’s rice requirement.

The recovery programme is aimed at ensuring that the farmers that benefitted from the year 2016 loan scheme return the money so that next batch of beneficiaries will enjoy the same intervention by the state government. The programme gave farmers close to 1Billion Naira  loan.

A total of five thousand five hundred and four thousand farmers benefitted from this loan, each of them received N163,710 per hectare (totaling about N906 million), and a hectare is expected to produce 60 bags of rice but only 13 bags when sold at the current market price of rice will repay the loan and 47 bags will be pocketed as profit.

While speaking at the event governor Ganduje according to a statement signed by the Director General Media and Communication Salihu Tanko Yakasai, promised “to ensure that all the issues raised during the interactive session like delay in giving out the loans and issue of inadequate fertilizer will be addressed, and then urged all the beneficiaries to ensure that they repay the loan as it is a revolving one in order to give to another set of farmers for the 2017 farming season, as this year the state is expected to increase its rice production to about 1/2 of the country’s rice requirement.”

The benefits of Ganduje administration’s resolve to provide laudable Agricultural programmes is not, however, for the overall benefit of the Kano farmers and the state alone but even the whole country will be affected positively.