Adelani Adepegba, Abuja
The Federal Government, the United States and other stakeholders have mapped out strategies to mobilise $300m to support investment and boost business in the agricultural sector in the country.
The fund aimed to reach at least 5,000 small and medium enterprises in order to expand opportunities for agribusiness borrowers and lenders in Nigeria.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, while speaking during the launch of the initiative in Abuja on Tuesday, said the Federal Government was creating the enabling environment and would ensure coordination among the states, the Federal Government and the US to achieve the target.
Represented by Andrew Kwasari, Senior Policy Adviser in the Office of the Vice President, Osinbajo noted that “the synergy between the US, the Federal Government and the states is a way for the future.”
The USAID Contractor of the FTF Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity, Adam Saffer, explained that Nigeria had tremendous opportunity to take advantage of the arable land in the country, abundant water, human resources, fertile soil and many other things that should make Nigeria not only self-sufficient but also the food basket of the region.
He said, “FTF Activity in order to help Nigeria reach the target is working with financial institutions, investors, agro data, processors and other businesses and producers to create a more enabling environment to attract those finances and investors.”
“With a more efficient agribusiness sector, food generation, better income and more inclusiveness of women and youth, we can end up with a better quality food at a lower price. Our activity is trying to activate $300m from the investors, from the banks and from the finance institutions to make this happen.”
US Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, said the US government would work with Nigeria to improve the ease of doing business in the agriculture sector, mitigate the risks to lending institutions and promote investment opportunities for agribusiness to expand and scale up their operations.
Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu, told reporters that Kebbi was doing a number of things to key into the programme to unlock the agricultural potential of the state.
“In the last five years, we have recorded significant improvement in yields in many commodities particularly rice where we have seen yields increasing from as little as one tonne per hectare to an average of five to six tonnes per hectare. We have similar increases in other crops like soya beans and millet,” he said.
Also speaking, Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, called on the US to assist Nigeria with the requisite technology to tackle some of the challenges associated with food production and preservation in the country.
The $15.7m Agribusiness Investment Programme aimed to facilitate the growth of existing private sector agribusinesses and work with producer organisations in the rice, maize, soybean, aquaculture, and cowpea value chains to increase Nigeria’s food security status and foster job creation opportunities.
Kaduna, Niger, Kebbi, Benue, Delta, Ebonyi and Cross River States are targeted under the initiative.