Uba Sani and food security in Kaduna state

Uba Sani

By Hattab Yahaya

Elections play an important role in deepening democracy in many parts of the world because they allow the governed to choose who governs them. However, an election is more than just an event; it is a process involving a variety of activities and stakeholders. One of these essential activities is campaigning. There is no doubt that the party to beat in the 2023 Kaduna state gubernatorial elections is the APC.

Kaduna state has undergone rigorous transformation characterised by unparalleled improvements in almost all sectors over the past seven years of Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s leadership. The transformative drive traversed systematic phases ranging from legislative, policy and institutional reforms to human capital development and social investment. The Kaduna Urban Renewal project has accelerated the urbanization of Kaduna and given the state an ultra modern facelift with several infrastructural developments across every nook and cranny of the state.

As El-rufai’s second term comes to an end and a new day dawns, the huge challenge for Senator Uba Sani, the Kaduna state APC gubernatorial standard bearer, is how to sustain and build on El-rufai’s legacy. This is simply because a reversal of these gains in the post 2023 era will be a huge tragedy. One sector that appears to be of importance to Uba Sani is tapping and fully exploiting the boundless potential of the agriculture sector.

Agriculture contributed 22.35 percent of the total Gross Domestic Product between January and March 2021. Despite its economic importance, Nigeria’s agricultural sector faces numerous challenges that reduce productivity. Poor land tenure systems, low levels of irrigation farming, climate change, and land degradation are examples of these. Others are low technology, high production costs and poor input distribution, limited financing, high post-harvest losses, and limited market access.

To address the situation, the federal government has implemented a number of initiatives and programmes, including the Agriculture Promotion Policy (APP), Nigeria-Africa Trade and Investment Promotion Programme, Presidential Economic Diversification Initiative, Economic and Export Promotion Incentives, and the Zero Reject Initiative, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP); and Action Against Desertification.

El-Rufai has always emphasided that agricultural development is one of the keys to the state’s growth and an avenue to fight unemployment. The governor announced during a plenary session on the mandate of governance at various levels on improving citizens’ standard of living as part of activities marking the third edition of the Kaduna Investment Summit. He stated that the government intended to keep the state’s position as the leading producer of soya beans, ginger, millet, and potatoes. According to the governor, Kaduna state will soon become the food basket of the Northern region and the country as a whole. Given Kaduna’s competitive advantages in the sector, agriculture, as well as agri-business and agro-industry, is a top priority.

El-Rufai has appealed to the people of Kaduna state to farm massively wherever they can because that is the concrete way to reduce hunger and prices of foodstuff. Concerned by the spate of unemployment in the State, he has engaged about 6,000 youths in dry season wheat farming. The governor said it plans to get seeds for 50,000 hectares in 2017 for wheat farming just as the state will start with 5, 000 hectares this year. These and many more are some of the agricultural interventions of the current state government, and like all government projects, continuity is essential for its effectiveness and sustainability.

Uba Sani has demonstrated his passion for human and social development through agro-entrepreneurship, in keeping with Governor El-Rufai’s mandate. From the start in the National Assembly, and given his understanding and knowledge of Kaduna state, he summarised his primary assignment in the Senate to address agriculture, security, job creation, health, banking, and financial inclusion across the country, as well as the myriad of needs affecting his constituents in Kaduna Central in particular and Kaduna state generally speaking.

He identified key LGAs in his constituency as predominantly agrarian, including Chikun, Giwa, and Birnin Gwari. Following that, he launched the Uba Sani Project to encourage and motivate farmers by providing expertise and technical know-how through the establishment of institutions of learning and training exercises, as well as influencing policies that will ease access to credit facilities for Medium and Small-Scale farmers, among other things. He also sponsored legislation to establish a Federal College of Forestry Technology and Research in Birnin-Gwari, Kaduna State, to aid in the upscaling of our forest managers’ knowledge and skills to keep up with advances in forestry research and technology. Once fully established, the college intends to create jobs and contribute significantly to economic diversification by expanding the frontiers of agroforestry, particularly now that cashew, shea butter, mango, and guava, among other crops, are becoming prominent in Nigeria’s export list and local industrial crops.

The programme, one of several others set up by Uba Sani, across the Kaduna Central Senatorial Zone, aimed to produce 1000 entrepreneurs who will employ thousands in farming and poultry production across Kaduna state. In order for beneficiaries to operate legally, the foundation created a Business Plan and registered all of the beneficiaries’ businesses. The foundation has also kept track of their progress and helped them obtain loans through the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) and other intervention funds.

The Uba Sani agribusiness project has greatly benefited thousands over the years, having received rice farming trainings. Several farmers have adopted a new modernized approach to rice farming, thanks to the intervention of the Uba Sani agribusiness project in collaboration with the Uba Sani Foundation. Some old farmers who were not new to the farming process said that before the Uba Sani agribusiness project intervention, the quantity they used to get 11 to 12 bags (of 130kg each), but now they make more than 20 bags during the rainy season, and the quantities they getting are higher during the dry season.

The project not only increased the output of farmers but has also provided them and their families with a sense of empowerment. When Uba Sani is elected Governor, and this is sustained, with the states paying their counterpart fund properly, many more smallholder-farmers, and communities across the entire state would benefit significantly.

Uba Sani is the most qualified and well-positioned candidate, based on verifiable and uncontestable facts, to build and consolidate the great strides made by the current administration under the capable leadership of Mallam El-Rufai. His meaningful engagement and networking with people across Kaduna State and other states of the federation to help build peaceful and prosperous communities position him to lead the state to greater heights. He has resolved to spend the rest of his life working to make Kaduna State one of the best places on the planet to live and work and it will certainly be a delight to bring this to light.

Yahaya writes from Kaduna

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Sky Daily