By Olawale Ayeni,
The initiative of African Union Development Agency- New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD) Nigeria to strengthen small holder farmers capability who constitute almost 90 percent of farmers in the country will greatly impact on the nation’s food security, eliminate unemployment and promote other socio-economic benefits, says Governor Abdulrahman AbdulRasaq of Kwara state.
AbdulRasaq made this known during a courtesy visit to Princess Gloria Akobundu, National Coordinator of AUDA-NEPAD Nigeria, at the Agency’s headquarters in Abuja.
The visit became necessary following his nomination as the Chairman, National Project Steering Committee for the deployment of Innovative Strengthening of Smallholder Farmer Capabilities in Nigeria, an AUDA-NEPAD initiative to stem effect of COVID-19 on the nation’s economy.
According to Kwara state Governor, AUDA-NEPAD Nigeria’s initiative is strategic and the impact will be far reaching.
“Over 90% of farmers in Nigeria are small holder farmers, despite their limited means, they have been feeding the nation, but they need to be strengthened in order to be more productive.
“It is a thing of joy to see AUDA-NEPAD came up with an initiative that targets smallholder farmers for them to scale up their productivity.
“As Governments cannot do it alone, AUDA-NEPAD Nigeria has done so well by providing a platform for smallholder farming to be more productive and profitable through engagement of governments at various levels and other key stakeholders.
“AUDA-NEPAD Nigeria has consistently been stepping up its developmental roles over the years, state governments should embrace the Agency’s programmes for rapid development,” he said.
On his nomination as Chairman of National Committee on Innovative Strengthening of Smallholder Farmer Capabilities in Nigeria amid COVID19 pandemic, Governor Abdulrasaq called for synergy among stakeholders.
“The committee has a vital role to play in the implementation of the initiative, I therefore urge AUDA-NEPAD to bring the Committee to speed on developments in the entire process for effective and efficient participation,” he said.
Earlier in her welcome address, Princess Akobundu said the initiative was one of various programmes of the Agency to eliminate poverty in the entire continent.
According to the statement signed by the APRM CEO’s media assistant, Abolade Ogundimu “Being a member of African Union (AU)-(African Peer Review Mechanism) APRM COVID-19 Taskforce Team, we came a up with a white paper to deliver our continent from the effect of COVID-19.
So, to get our dear country out of COVID-19 effects, we are implementing this initiative to strengthen smallholder farmers across the six geo-political zones and create wealth at the grassroots.
“We target bottom-top approach to take our people out of COVID-19 problem. If you look at the communities, you will observe our fathers, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters are the farmers.
“They need the enabling environment, land reclamation, startup packs, seedlings, they need to be trained on better preservation means to eliminate wastages, better packaging.
“We are bringing the development partners, the private sectors in agricultural value chain like food processing and packaging, as well as market which include export, we will create food, we will also create wealth at the community level,” she said.
Akobundu commended Governor Abdulrasaq for his strong commitment to the programme, saying his leadership of the Committee would in no means galvanise more critical stakeholders to come on board.
The Committee was made up major stakeholders including two Governors from each geo-political zone, six Federal Ministries of Environment, Agriculture and Rural Development, Education, Power and Budget and National Planning had a member each in the committee.
Also, a representative from five development partners including: Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN); Development Bank of Nigeria,; Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing Systems for Agricultural Lending NIRSAL) and; Nigeria Export Processing Zone Authority (NEPZA).
From the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) Nigeria Farmers Association, Nigeria Women in Agriculture and Youth Initiative for Sustainable Agriculture (YISA) were represented in the Committee while Dangote Group of Company was there from the Private Sector.
The Committee was expected to collaborate with AUDA-NEPAD Nigeria in providing strategic leadership and policy Orientation to the initiative in the country.
Meeting on the initiative in Nigeria started on 30th June, 2020 via virtual platform in compliance to COVID-19 protocols and had been yielding positive results as the nominated Committee would soon be inaugurated by the AUDA-NEPAD Continental.