Kano Interview Series (5)
By Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde
Kano Agricultural Supply Company
I visited KASCO to confirm the assertions made by the MD of KNARDA. I met its Managing Director, who said was mandated to revive the place after it was comatose during the tenure of the previous administration. After our discussion, we went round and met the machines that produce fertilizers and animal feed running. Outside, trucks loaded with fertilizer were waiting to be dispatched to various destinations in the state. This was how our discussion went.
Me: Mr. MD, how did you meet KASCO on your appointment?
MD: KASCO was virtually dead, until the advent of this administration. I remember what the governor told me when appointing me. He said, “Go and revive KASCO.” And as I told the workers that I met here then, KASCO is in ICU unit of the hospital.
Me: In short, you are saying that KASCO had become kasko (a piece of broken earth pot)?
MD: Exactly, KASCO had become kasko. When we came here, we set out to revamp the place. Thank God, I got the support of the workers here. We focused first on revamping the existing production machines. It was forwarded to the governor by the Hon. Commissioner of Agriculture. The state executive council approved our request and the machines were repaired.
After reviving the machines, we applied for the purchase of ingredients required for fertilizer production. It was approved and we acquired them promptly. Production thus started. We will go round with you. At least we produce and evacuate from this factory all the fertilizer that will be distributed to various wards in the state. We don’t need to buy it from elsewhere.
Me: Apart from fertilizer, what do you have for livestock farmers like me?
MD: We produce improved animal feed especially for cattle. You will see it too.
Me: What else do you deal in?
MD: We also provide seeds of various crops for farmers. They are right now available. The same is with herbicides and pesticides. They are available in our zonal shops at Bichi, Wudil and Kura for the three senatorial zones, in addition to the one here.
Me: Now, how much do you sell the fertilizer and how do you distribute it?
MD: The fertilizer is sold at N1,900.00 a bag. It is distributed through our Community Reorientation Committees in various wards. Then there are arrangements for large scale farmers, farmers’ societies, and establishments under the ministries of agriculture.
Me: And you are sure that the distribution will not be limited to members of “Kwankwasiya”?
MD: Not at all. The CRC in every ward is composed of traditional rulers, teachers, malams, members of opposition, etc. It involves all segments of society in the community.
Me: What message do you have for farmers?
MD: I want to tell farmers that their old fertilizer is now back. It has been improved and, in fact, tested and approved by the Institute of Agriculture, Ahmadu Bello University (I was given a copy of the chemical analysis and approval by IAR). So they can use it without any fear. We have fulfilled our campaign promise in this respect.
Me: When state owned factories like this are formed or revived, the issue of their sustainability becomes a problem. They often return to government for financial support to pay salaries, allowances and even to purchase inputs for production, having stolen their proceeds or squandered it or run the entire factory at a loss. What are you doing to avoid that in your new KASCO? And what assurance will you give that at the end of the tenure of this administration you are going to handover a viable KASCO, not a kasko, once more.
MD: We are doing our best to make this place self-sustaining. The proceeds from the fertilizer we produce will be recycled, for example. And so we would handle all aspects of our operations. I assure you we will hand over a viable KASCO as we once did in 2003.
Me: Finally, when do you think KASCO will provide sufficient fertilizer to all farmers in Kano at all seasons of the year? This question is pertinent because many times fertilizer carried to villages in Northern Nigeria are not sufficient. Some farmers end up with only two or three kilograms. When would that level of sufficiency be attained by KASCO?
MD: We are on track, I assure you. We have started with production. Two, the governor has directed the repair of all agricultural stores throughout the state. Once the renovations are completed, we will continue to stock them with inputs as we produce them.
Me: When will the renovation be completed then?
MD: This year, in sha Allah.
Me: Ok. I will take you on that next year when I return. Thank you so much.
8 June 2012