By Mumini AbdulKareem and Daniel Ayantoye
The Kwara State House of Assembly, yesterday approved another N1billion loan for agricultural empowerment and economic diversification in the state against the 2018 farming season.
The approval was sequel to the request of Governor Abdulfattah Ahmed in his message read by the Speaker, Dr Ali Ahmad during Wednesday’s plenary.
The House had granted a similar request of N1billion loan from the governor in February, 2017 for the development of agriculture in the state.
The two loans are to be accessed under the Anchor Borrowers Programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Governor Ahmed in the letter expressed determination of the state government to focus on agriculture as key driver of the state’s economy to improve industrialisation, economic emancipation as well as sustainable tools for women and youths empowerment.
The Governor explained that the state is ecologically endowed with advantage to grow maize, soya beans, rice and cassava.
In their deliberations, the legislators noted that economic diversification, especially into agriculture cannot be over emphasised; stressing that farming has become an indispensable vocation.
The House, while approving the request to accelerate the second N1billion loan, stressed the need to properly monitor how the initial N1billion was disbursed to genuine farmers in the state.
The House in its resolution directed its Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources to investigate how the first release was disbursed to farmers in the state and its effect on agricultural activities and also for the committee to produce a comprehensive list of farmers who benefitted from each constituency in the state.
Also, during plenary, the lawmakers called on craftsmen and women in the state to register free of charge at office of the clerk to enable them display their wares for sale at the assembly complex.
This was sequel to a motion without notice titled: “Empowering Kwara Entrepreneur through Patronage moved by the House Leader, Hassan Oyekeke (Essa/Shawo/lgboidun).
Oyeleke said that it has become imperative for Kwarans and Nigerians to look inward and patronise their own products so as to create employment opportunity and strengthen the naira.
Reading the resolution, the Speaker, Dr Ali Ahmad, said that the House has set aside the last Wednesday of every month for makers of cap, clothes, shoes and other household items to display them for sale.
Meanwhile, the Speaker, who observed that the country is richly blessed with beautiful attires and artifacts, implored craftsmen and women in the state to produce them in high quality so as to gain patronage against foreign ones.
The lawmakers also urged Nigerians to patronise indigenous products to enhance economic growth.
In a related development, following the release of N1billion to farmers in the state, the Kwara State Chapter of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) has commenced the monitoring of farmers across the 16 local government areas of the state.
The state Chairman of AFAN, Ajibola Olawale, noted that farmers under the association benefited around N1 million worth of cash and produce each.
According to him, though there are other clusters in the state that benefited from the fund, 80 members of the association with 5 selected from each local government received the fund.