Nigeria’s effort to achieve food security has received a boost with the attraction of a $2 million agricultural partnership deal from USAID, the United States Agency for International Development.
Speaking at the launch of the agreement in Abuja, U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission, Maria E. Brewer, said that the two-year partnership was with two local companies including Babban Gona and Hello Tractor.
She said that the partnership was 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 will 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%”.
“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.
“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.”
The Minister of Agriculture Chief Audu Ogbe at the launch commended USAID for its support for Nigeria at its critical moment, stating that it 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.”
Mr Michael Harvey , the USAID Mission Director in Nigeria, 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 capitalise 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.”
Mr Jehiel Oliver, the Chief Executive Officer of Hello Tractor, said that through the partnership smallholder farmers would gain access to tractor services as 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
Mrs Chinwe Osuji, a representative of Babban Gona, 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 added that Baban Gona provided member farmers with services designed to optimised crop yields production costs, and prices of agricultural outputs in other to helps increase profitability of smallholder farmers, contributes to household food security and improved livelihoods.