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USAID Launches Farmer-Friendly Programme In Nigeria
The United State Agency for International Development, USAID, has launched a two year partnership programme to increase access to smart tractors, improved seeds and profitable markets for over 45,000 smallholder farmers across Nigeria.
The initiative is designed to support the ‘Feed the Future’ initiative which accelerates production, improve processing and increase firms and marketing capabilities to meet food security.
Michael Harvey, USAID Mission Director, made this known in Abuja at the inauguration of a two million-Dollar US government/private partnership towards strengthening Nigeria’s agricultural sector.
Harvey said the ‘‘US Embassy has been a major player in agriculture for a number of years, whether it is regional exception or commercial services through the USAID. The simple reason is that Nigeria is incredibly important to the economies of Africa and food security of Africa.’’
He added that the US government was committed to working with the private sector to grow Nigeria’s agriculture sector.
Also speaking at the event, the Deputy Chief of Mission of USAID, Maria Brewer said a changing world requires innovation and that in sub-Sahara Africa, up to 70 percent of young people engage in the agricultural value chain.
‘‘Nigeria is one of the most innovative, dynamic and entrepreneurial countries in the world. The US government is proud to partner with the private sector for the good of the Nigeria’s agriculture sector. Together we are creating a new model of development,
“This model includes working with international organisations, civil society, local governments, researchers and the private sector. In turn this partnership would help feed a growing population with access to fewer natural resources,’’ Brewer said.
With the 60 percent level of youth unemployment in Nigeria and eight million youths expected to enter the workforce in the next 20 years, the need to increasing Nigeria’s agricultural production has become necessary.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbe, pledged government’s commitment towards improving the agricultural sector by ensuring food sufficiency in the country through training and support programmes for the youths.
‘‘The government is sending one thousand youths for training and extension to teach the farmers how to plant, we are working on seed improvement, trying to reform the Bank of Agriculture, to cheaper credit and bargaining for five percent agric credit to farmers, organising farmers to form cooperatives so that they become the borrowers,’’ the Minister said.
He assured investors in the Agricultural sector that government was taking proactive steps towards ensuring the safety of farmers and investors in the sector adding that government was working at preventing the movement of cattle-herdsmen from place to place in search of grazing.