By Adeleke Gbenga
The indigenes of Baruten and Kaiama in the Baruten and Kaiama local government areas of Kwara North Senatorial Districts in Kwara State have been challenged to rescue yam production in the areas from going into extinction.
This advice was given by the Emir of Ilesha-Baruba, Professor Halidu I. Abubakar at the 1st Kwara North Economic Development Summit held at the Banquet Hall, Kwara Hotels, Ilorin recently.
Speaking on the theme of the summit titled ”Embracing Knowledge Economy for Sustainable Economic Development in Kwara North” the Emir challenged the youths to research and find out why yam production described as traditional crops of the areas is declining in outputs and productivity.
He stressed that yam production in Baruten and Kaiama is beyond agriculture production or farming activities, reiterating that it is a tradition and culture of the indigenes.
On knowledge economy as a catalyst for growth and development in Kwara North, the traditional ruler tasked the younger generation of the Kwara North origin across its five local governments to embrace knowledge economy as an alternative model of development to the current economic model that relies on exploitation of natural resources.
He differentiated between economic growth and economic development which he stressed are often wrongly used by proponents of the concepts including government officials.
He said while economic growth is the increase in the Gross Domestic Product(GDP) which is a total sum of monetary values of all goods and services produced within that economy, development on the other hand includes growth and transformation in technical processes and outputs of the good and services.
He stressed that while there is growth in every development, it is not all growth that lead to development.
The traditional ruler reiterated that while development which he emphasized includes application of technical know-how which does not only increase outputs and add values but also transforms and increases quality of the outputs is what Kwara North desires, said growth which is its opposite only emphasizes quantity and not quality.
Development in its own case according to the monarch contains both quantity and quality.
He reiterated that development goes beyond econometrics but includes inclusiveness, social justice, equity and fair play in the distribution of resources.
The Professor of Economics turned royal father said knowledge economy in today’s 21st century is what Kwara North requires in the circumstances in which it finds itself.
This he said includes investment in Information Communications Technology (ICT), research and application of innovation and technology in the production processes.
Also speaking, the Emir of Lafiaji, Alhaji Mohammad Kawu Baba Kudu reiterated in his speech that agriculture is the mainstay of Kwara North’s economy in view of its largest arable land said to be about 70 percentage of the State’s total land mass, River Niger and its tributaries described as huge assets.
He challenged the indigenes of the five local governments of the region which include Edu, Patigi, Baruten, Kaiama and Moro not to allow agriculture to go into extinction in Kwara North.
The traditional ruler also challenged them to embrace paradigm shift by not completely relying on government for provision of funds for their infrastructural and agricultural needs.
Speaking on government, private sector and community’s roles as catalysts for economic growth and development, the monarch charged them to take their destiny in their hands by not relying on government’s sources of funding.
He hinted that governments have limited financial capability to fund projects for the communities, tasking them to rather look towards private sector which has abundant resources.
He reiterated that the private sector option as sources of funding community projects are more viable than the federal government’s sources, if they are willing to sacrifice by paying for the loans secured for their projects by the State government.
He observed for example that they should be willing to pay tolls on the roads funded with the private sector’s money, saying that is only the way problems of poor road networks in Kwara North could be solved.
He told the audience that government has areas of projects which only government can do because of their huge financial requirements and low economic values, tasking them however to take responsibility for projects that are strictly community own.
In his own remarks, the Senator representing the areas, Senator Sadiq Suleiman Umar charged the indigenes to partner with both government and private sector to ameliorate the problems of infrastructure deficit bedeviling the region.
He also tasked them to embrace digital infrastructure and skills to solve the problems of the region.
Senator Umar reminded them of the importance of knowledge in solving problems and challenges.
Earlier, the Chairman of Kwara North Development Council, Kolo Jerry and the organizer of the event in his welcome address said Kwara North has the reason to model for others, saying the region is poised to exceed the standards set by its forebears.
He said the summit was organized by the Kwara North Development Council to sensitize the indigenes, Kwarans and Nigerians as a whole that, there has to be a paradigm shift in the ways things are done in today’s 21st century of digital revolution.