BusinessDay

Katsina reinvents agriculture to dissuade banditry, create employment opportunities

Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State explains to some select journalists how the state government is reinventing agriculture and livestock farming business in the state to dissuade banditry and create employment opportunities for the youths. He also spoke on how the newly Katsina national Talent Hunt Challenge is helping provide platforms for numerous youths in the states. HARRISON EDEH and INNOCENT ODOH were there for BusinsssDay. Excerpts:

We just had the ‘Katsina Talent Hunt challenge,’ in your own assessment how could this drag down crime among the youth population in Katsina?
I think it has a general impact on the youths of the society .It offers opportunity, it offers space, it provides for engagement. You know many things are going to come out of this, and many young people will see opportunities from this and in other areas.
We want it to be a springboard where many positive ideas will come providing for us as a government, an avenue to engage the youths more and to see how we could help in developing the youths.
Mind you when we talk about the first hundred winners, we are going to partner with the creative writing schools, courses that are meant to prepare someone for livelihoods and put them through businesses so that they could absorb others to support him. Hence, there would be a multiple dimension to support him.
Also, for those who don’t, even have opportunity to go to School, and had some talents would be offered a created platform for us. That is why we are creating a Hausa platform where those Hausa musicians and local creators are supported with this opportunity. We want no only the government, but also the private individuals to come up with something that will promote and develop the youths and create opportunities for everybody.

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How is the Katsina State recovering from the after effect of the Covid-19?
In Katsina you know we were affected by the covid pandemics and the issue of banditry. We thank God that about 90 percent of banditry has now been put under control and the covid pandemic is a global issue. For us in Nigeria, it is a national issue which affected everyone and the economy .This is because the nation is largely dependent on one single commodity, except now that the economy is being opened under agriculture and solid mineral.
Since the world has come to a standstill during the covid,it means all sectors no matter what you do has been affected by the pandemic. It means that what we are doing is a global issue. Even states found themselves in different positions about the covid based on their strength of their economy and the resilience of their people.
We thank God that the effect of the covid pandemic is much more less than projected in Nigeria and states.

Apart from the Covid-19, we saw the flood affected several Northern states, can you kindly speak on the impact of this year’s flood to Katsina?
Actually, we were lucky. From 2015 to 2019, we have invested heavily on building of drainages in our cities and localities to reduce significantly the effects of this flooding. I do believe that within this period I mentioned, we’ve spent well over N7 billion in construction of drainage that has greatly helped in terms of curbing the flood. We’ve some damages mostly in the inner cities and sometimes along the farmslands, but by and large, it has not greatly affected our people like it was the case in other places.
Luckily, we’ve the large dams that controls flood. Dams can be used to control and regulate floods and we have many of them in Katsina states in addition to the drainage we have constructed.

It is been 33 years the state came into existence, going forward, what kind of economic development and people empowerment initiatives are you looking at now for the states?
I think in Katsina, we’re embarking on what we know best. you know Katsina is entirely dependent on Agriculture and livestock and so we’re reinventing ourselves in areas of Agriculture and livestock so that we can be economically and socially independent in terms of food production and sustainability.
The addition now is the discovery of over 30 presence of various natural resources and even the Minister of state for solid Mineral was in Katsina to explore more ways and means of exploring and harnessing what we have.
Recently, we floated a company called Kemcol which we partner with the other companies in the soil development area and last week, we had a seminar with the members of the House of representatives on solid mineral, Ministry and members of ‘Kemcol’ to seek areas of cooperation and to see how we could get more funding partners and indigenous investors on solid mineral.
We’ve created vehicle for solid mineral development in Katsina state and we’ve obtained licencing under those vehicles such that we could be in a position to rarely partner with those interested in the development of solid minerals in Katsina State.

Your excellency, can we look at possible other sectoral policies you have to offer more platforms for young people in the state as you revealed banditry is now 90 percent under control?
Well, Katsina has now a productive population of 7.8 million and of this population,60-70 percent of such population are below the age of 40. This population below the age of 40 are within the population age bracket that these bandits hire to commit banditry in villages and towns, and settlements in forest areas. This is what I said earlier.
What we’re doing now is that since 90 percent of our population are dependent on Agriculture in the large scale. Parts of what we’re doing is to reinvent agriculture that could give 70 percent of the population direct employment.
We’re also looking at development working closely with the international agencies for the development of livestock production so that more employment could come from that sector for those even living in the forests. Also, the bye product which is the production of milk which is produced in large quantities and sometimes are poured on ground because there is no market, hence making it easy for them to come into the cities and towns to hawk this fresh milk.

The issue of mining is an addition to the areas we’re looking at .We are also looking at empowerment of the rural population. You know the federal government through 1000 jobs per local government is creating opportunities for young men in rural areas.
So a lot is being done to assist the youths and dissuade them from joining bandits and create opportunities that will help them abandon banditry. We’re also embarking on massive road constructions and rehabilitation of water points and many things that will rarely help in discouraging and stopping this banditry. With the assistance of the law enforcement agencies, and other security agencies, we’re making serious headways in terms of combating the banditry and going back to where we’re in terms of Katsina being the most peaceful state.

Last year, you had a meeting with the leadership of National Automotive Design and Development Council, in terms of building a mechanic village, do we have an update on that?
You Know we are working with the National Automotive Design and Development Council here in Abuja. It was the covid 19 that disrupted our progress. In fact, the managing director would have been here with us, but he travelled. He’s part of this talent hunt initiative.
Immediately after we’ve set the Talent hunt on course, we are going to go back to the issue of having a mechanic and motor fare in Katsina state that will bring all these young men and women together through in motor maintenance and other automobile related issues.

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