The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development have launched an innovative new initiative that will leverage the power of entrepreneurship to improve agricultural outcomes in Nigeria.
The initiative which is a five year, $16.6 million innovative Feed the Future Nigeria Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services Activity, will facilitate learning and replication in agriculture through private sector-embedded extension models to help more than two million small stakeholder farmers make use of new agricultural technologies and practices.
The initiative which was launched last week virtually attracted dignitaries including the minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono as well as the governor of Kebbi State, Senator Atiku Abubakar Bagudu.
Speaking at the launch, director of USAID’s Office of Economic Growth and Environment, Colin Dreizin, said: “Through this new partnership, USAID will support Nigeria in its strategy to reduce poverty and food insecurity through agricultural-led development.
“It will provide a template for agribusiness firms to access the latest science-based agricultural products and services, as well as private sector agribusiness firms.
“It will also foster collaboration with other agriculture sector donors,” Dreizin said, adding, “This activity will provide about 300 small and medium sized businesses new or improved extension and advisory services, which are expected to lead to an estimated $300 million (N116 billion) in increased sales.
“The activity will also leverage $33.6 million (N14 billion) in private sector investment and $120 million (N46 billion) in agriculture financing to support two million smallholder farmers.
Also speaking, minister of agriculture and rural development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono stated that the new activity is coming at the right time to support Nigeria’s new extension policy, which incorporates the private sector into the nation’s extension service system and seeks to reposition agriculture as a viable commercial business.
“We commend USAID for the innovative extension activity and pledge to make all necessary structures at the Ministry available for its smooth implementation,” the minister said.
The Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services works through existing micro, small, and medium enterprises to meet the information and service needs of smallholder farmers.
The new project will focus on the value chains for maize, rice, soybean, cowpea, and aquaculture.
It will also focus on building the capacity of private extension service providers to deliver information, inputs, and finance services that will help increase productivity, income, and nutrition of smallholder farmers, and support young, innovative farmers and business leaders through cutting-edge projects that spur entrepreneurship in Nigeria.
USAID said by strengthening links between research institutions, public and private extension providers, the activity will help agricultural stakeholders achieve, replicate, scale-up and sustain innovation.
Managed by Winrock International and its team of international partners, the activity will be implemented from 2020-2025, in seven states of Nigeria: Benue, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Kaduna, Kebbi and Niger.