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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Kano Interview Series (3): KNARDA

Kano Interview Series (4)
By Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde

Kano Agricultural and Rural Development Authority

I visited Kano Agricultural and Rural Development Authority along Hadejia Road on 31 May 2012 and met with its Managing Director, Engr. Kabiru Jibril. This is our brief interaction with him the achievement of his department in the past one year.

Me: Good Morning. What achievements have been made under this authority since the inception of this administration?

MD: There are a number of achievements. First, when we came in, we found all our farm training centres were not functional. The governor directed that we survey the schools and make recommendation for resuscitation them such that they can provide training centres for youth empowerment. The schools are located in four places: Rano, Kadawa, Gwarzo and Dambatta. We went round and surveyed all of them and arrived at a figure of about N42million. The money was approved and disbursed to us. We renovated the schools and admitted youths from farming communities using ox-plough from all the 484 wards in the state. The schools can accommodate 500 students at a time. That figure was admitted in the first batch and on completion each student was given N140,000.00 to buy an ox- and a plough, as interest free loan.

In the second batch of admissions, we admitted 400 students in animal traction. The remaining 100 trained in poultry, as part of the students admitted into youth empowerment programs in twenty different schools in the state. The third batch is now in session.

It was realized that it will be of immense benefit to include tractor usage. This component is now included in the course.

Two, there is a loan facility of N1billion provided to the state by the federal government for disbursement to farmers in the state, if the state government will serve as a guarantor. The previous administration failed to utilize this facility. We informed the governor about it and the responsibility of the state government to guarantee the loan. He immediately approved it. A committee was set up to screen beneficiaries of the loan under the chairmanship of the deputy governor. Initially, people were reluctant, given their bad experience under the previous administration, but later they understood that it was for real. So we visited the farms of those applicants and came up with a list of beneficiaries. The interest on the loan is just 6.5%, very low when compared to 25 – 30% that obtains in commercial banks.

The loan is earmarked for farming maize, rice, fishery, poultry, agro-processing, and cattle rearing for dairy and fattening. A farmer makes a choice among these seven areas, his farm is visited and after his practice is established, the formalities are completed and the loan is given.

Seeing this, farmers started to flood KNARDA with their requests. Now, it is a revolving facility. As some pay back, the money recouped is given to fresh ones. The loan given to the first batch is about to mature. Once the money is collected, it will be given to the new applicants.

Me: What do you like the government to do to further boost agriculture in the state?

Despite the present effort, we would like to be offered the opportunity to search for new techniques and introduce them to our farmers. Apart from this, we would like to sell the idea of assisting each zone in its crops of specialty. We would like to follow the value chain to completion: from seed procurement, to cropping, to processing and to marketing.

Me: The planting season is already here. What are your plans for providing farmers with inputs this year, since, unlike last year when it met you during the transition, this time you have had a complete year to prepare for the season?

MD: What is interesting is that even though we were in transition last year, we were able to do our best to the appreciation of the public. At least a truck load of fertilizer, for example, was delivered to each of our 484 wards in the state last year. Each bag was sold at N2,000.00 including the cost of transportation. This year too, we have made arrangement for similar deliveries. The difference is that this time, it is our own fertilizer, produced solely by KASCO.

Me: Wasn’t KASCO functional when you came this administration came in?

MD: When we came it was not functional at all. The place was dead and the staff there were almost dead too. This administration revamped the place and it is now functional, processing fertilizer and trucks are delivered to various wards right now. Our allocation for demonstration plots is about to be approved.

What people should realize is that agricultural production revolves around three things: good seed, fertilizer and insecticides. But many think that it is all about fertilizer. If you do not have good seeds, fertilizer will be of little use. We have therefore focused our attention on procuring good seeds and distributing them to farmers.

Me: Talking about good seeds, don’t you think you can provide them by establishing large farms, or by KASCO if you like, in conjunction with institutions like IAR, such that you save your farmers the havoc of the poor seeds now peddled in our markets?

MD: This is a good question. KNARDA had a process called “out grower.” We acquire good seed and distribute it to our farmers. After they grow it, we purchase it through a program called “buy back”. If after examination, we realize that its vigour is not lost, we treat it, package it and sell it again. That arrangement is there. It will be a viable area to resuscitate. We will see how government will improve on the system and possibly open large farms as you have suggested that will exclusively grow improved seeds for farmers.

Unless attention is focused on good seed production, it will not be possible even to sell our product in the international market. When you harvest grains of different sizes and qualities, for example, it will be rejected in such markets.

Me. Thank you, MD. We wish you success.

8 June 2012

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