Food Security: France to partner with Kwara Govt on agriculture

THE French Ambassador to Nigeria, Emmanuelle Blatmann, says her home Government is ready to partner with Kwara Government to promote agriculture.

The envoy said this during a courtesy visit to Gov. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq in Ilorin on Wednesday.

Blatmann said she is impressed by the clear vision of Gov. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq and his deep understanding of contemporary issues of sustainable development and governance.

According to her, the governor’s focus on agribusiness, garment production, tourism, ICT, renewable energy and entertainment shows he is a visionary who truly understands the direction he is headed as a chief executive.

Blatmann said the French government is open to immediate partnership with Kwara under him, beginning in February with a bilateral talk on how to develop the Lata Grazing Reserve and make a new frontier of socioeconomic growth.

The ambassador said her government plans to approve investments in various businesses at the Reserve and Kwara economy grow by at least 10 French firms.

“We want to acknowledge the fact that we have been working on a project that is dedicated to the Lata grazing reserve.

“There will be a committee that will meet in February in Paris at the French Treasury in order to formally award a grant dedicated to the development of the grazing reserve.

“More than 10 French companies have been successfully mobilised into all necessary and complementary areas such as pasture improvement.

“Others are animal feeding, veterinary and medicinal animal help; bovine genetics and reproduction, and milk production and processing with a leading company in milk production around the world,” she said.

Blatmann said a committee will be put in place in February to work on the feasibility study ahead of contract award and that the implementation would commence in 2024.

She commended the AbdulRazaq and his team for impressively pursuing growth for the state.

The French ambassador also signified interest in collaborating with Kwara on some of its key projects like Innovation Hub, Visual Arts Centre, digital literacy and cultural development, including how to promote the French language in local schools and exchange programme that may see some Kwarans go to France.

Responding, AbdulRazaq said the administration has been taking steps to partner with France in agriculture and livestock to check the lingering conflicts between herders and farmers, and promote food security in the state.

“Our herders are largely on the move. Something has to give to make them more sedentary.

“There has to be genuine efforts in that direction for the good of all.

“With rapid evolution, urbanisation, climate change, reduction in water bodies and properties, and grazing land, there will be more challenges for herdsmen and other economic groups.

“For this reason, we have been seeing conflicts with farmers and others.

“So, developing grazing reserves and giving land titles to herdsmen will also create food security for us.

“It will be a win-win situation. That is why we seek your support and expertise in putting up a good master plan (good feasibility study) on the Grazing Reserve, which will be sustainable.

“Yes, it will take time to put the programme in place, but it is just important to get it right.

“We see a great future in partnering with France in agriculture because France seems to be the master of the game in that sector with a lot of expertise,” he said.

The governor also listed other areas of interest for partnerships to include creative industry, energy transition, production and consumption, adding that attention is fast shifting to solar energy to source light and drive economic growth. (NAN)