Wednesday, 20 July 2016

US launches $2m partnership to strengthen Nigeria’s agriculture

By Jimoh Babatunde & Victoria Ojeme

The United  States Agency for International Development (USAID), Monday, launched a two-million dollars government’s agricultural and private sector strategy to promote the development of Nigeria’s agriculture sector.

Vegetable farmers at work
U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission, Ms Maria Brewer, at the launch at the U.S. Embassy, Abuja said that the two years partnership was with two local companies including Babban Gona and Hello Tractor.

According to her the two partnerships aimed at increasing access to smart tractors, improved seeds, and profitable markets for over 45,000 smallholder farmers across seven states and the Federal Capital Territory.

Brewer explained that under the first partnership, Babban Gona helps to address economy of scale problems for smallholder farmers by forming cooperatives called “trust groups. Over the next two years, Babban Gona will help more than 20,000 small holder farmers in five states increase yield and potentially increase their income up to 30 per cent. The success of this partnership will support Hello Tractors sales, while providing 115 young people with an opportunity to build businesses in providing tractor hiring services.

Access to tractor services

“Improved access to tractor services will allow 24,500 small holder farmers across three states to boost their productivity and gain higher revenues for their households,” she said.

According to her with these partnerships, the U.S. government’s Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation programme will provide training, financing, and mentoring opportunities to experienced entrepreneurs to young agricultural entrepreneurs alike.

The Minister of Agriculture Chief Audu Ogbe at the launch commended USAID for its support for Nigeria at its critical moment. Ogbe harped on the need for investment in agricultural sector which he said was key to economic development.

“There is future in agriculture, if you invest in it you are securing your future, if we don’t invest in agriculture there may not be a place to call our nation in future. If we don’t deal with the food challenge, we will never be able to cope with the food challenge,” he said. The USAID Mission Director in Nigeria, Mr Michael Harvey said that under the Feed the Future initiative USAID partners with private sector to support smallholder farmers in Nigeria.

According to him through these partnerships USAID addresses development and business challenges by increasing access to improved agricultural inputs and mechanisation, better quality technical advisory services, and expanding market opportunities for smallholder farmers. “These partnerships capitalises on the untapped potential of youth in agriculture and helped build capacity of young entrepreneurs to help grow their businesses, create jobs and boost economic growth in Nigeria,” he said

The Chief Executive Officer of Hello Tractor, Mr Jehiel Oliver, said that through the partnership smallholder farmers would gain access to tractor services.

Oliver said that the collaboration would afford 100 youth entrepreneurs on the business opportunity of owning and maintaining a fleet of smart tractors.

He added that some 15 young technicians would benefits from trade skills to repair Smart Tractor. A representative of Babban Gona, Ms Chinwe Osuji, said that through the partnership the company would create positive impact for 20,000 smallholder farmers.

She said that the company addressed the challenge of small farmers by forming strong cooperatives called Trust Groups, which enable farmers to gain access to new markets and sell at premium.

She said that Baban Gona provided member farmers with services designed to optimised crop yields production costs, and prices of agricultural outputs.

She said that the model helps to increase profitability of smallholder farmers and contributes to household food security and improved livelihoods.

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