As Nigeria’s agricultural sector continue to record improvement across the value chains,  USAID feed the future team mobilised stakeholders across the country to develop the five- year policy plan that will be launched in June this year. JOHN OBA, reports.

The Feed the Future Nigeria Agricultural Policy Project funded by USAID-Nigeria is a five- year, $12.5 million initiative under the joint effort between Michigan State University (MSU) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI’s) Nigeria Strategy Support Programme (NSSP) is aimed at growing agricultural production, diversify incomes, and improve nutrition.

The programme will also provide livelihoods planning skills, adult literacy and numeracy instruction, and cash transfers for the most vulnerable households.  

According to the USAID Mission Director, Stephen M. Haykin, the project took a holistic approach to agriculture, to livelihoods, and to social development.

It addresses the needs of the extreme poor by improving incomes and reducing vulnerabilities, and in this way, serves as a model for efforts to build resilience in rural Nigeria.

As part of efforts to achieve the set objectives for the project, the USAID Nigeria office convened a stakeholders meeting in Abuja to review and approve the Global Food Security Strategy (GFSS) plan for Nigerian at the Chelsea Hotel Abuja with the review of several projects under the Feed the Future project.

Private sector participation

Giving his opening remark at the meeting on Thursday, the Feed the Future Team Leader in the Office of Economic Growth & Environment of the USAID, Nigeria, Dr. Osagie Christopher Aimiuwu, said the mandate of the project after the launch is to ensure that the implementation is private sector led. 

He said by the end of the year 2019, the office hope to have nothing less than ten activities being run under the FTF programme. He however assured that the promotion of nutrition will cut across the whole activities.

Maize quality improvement

Briefing the stakeholders on the overview of the Feed the Future Nigeria and Nestlé Maize Quality Improvement Partnership Activity, the team leader, Mrs Damian Chikwendu said the partnership is a three-year activity that is implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA). 

She said the activity would enhance the quality and safety of maize and soybean available to Nestlé while supporting USAID’s goals of revitalizing Nigeria’s agriculture sector, and improving health and nutrition along these cereal value chains. 

The $1.9 million activity, she said, will improve the agricultural practices of over 20,000 smallholder farmers including more than 8,000 farm women – in order to supply Nestlé with at least 11,000 MT of CNFA maize and 6,000 MT of soybeans that meet or exceed its quality criteria. 

“In doing so, the activity will enhance relationships along both the maize and soybean supply chains, increase farmers’ sales of maize and soybean, and improve the health in rural communities by promoting the consumption of safer products.  

“CNFA will leverage the strengths of its partners by collaborating with educational institutions, research, and development partners, including NYSC and Purdue University. 

“Kaduna state is a key producer of maize and soybean and a key purchaser of grain in this state, Nestlé has found high levels of aflatoxin, fumonisins, and aluminum in these produce.  

“These contaminants can cause serious health issues for consumers such as cancer, immune system suppression, and stunted skeletal growthrisks are especially high for infants. This project will mitigate the effects of these contaminants,” she said.

Agribusiness investment

Presenting the overview on FTF Nigeria agribusiness investment, the Chief of party, Dr. Adams Safer, the activity will aim to facilitate $200 million in new agricultural loans, while expanding the number of financial Institutions with growing agribusiness finance portfolios in focused VCs and States.

He said the activities would seek to build the capacity of Financial Institutions and linkages between agribusiness borrowers and lenders, reaching at least 5,000 SMEs. 

The activity interventions will help to provide training and technical assistance to financial institutions in developing and expanding their agricultural loan portfolios (e.g., product development, outreach, risk mitigation), build the capacity of agribusiness MSMEs in terms of being credit and investment ready (e.g., business plans, financial literacy, financial management, forecasting); support organisations in creating a more efficient and effective approach to food security policy and those laws and regulations related to a more competitive agribusiness sector.

It will also work with supply and demand actors to identify and create commercially viable business linkages along the selected value chains; assist in the diligence, structuring, and closing of foreign and domestic investment transactions while promoting and facilitating public private sector dialogue at the federal and state levels resulting in a more conducive agribusiness and agricultural investment environment; build the capacity of women and youth organizations, and their member agribusiness entrepreneurs in how to better access finance and investment to grow their businesses.

Source: Blueprint

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