The Niger state government is to partner the United States African Development Foundation (USADF) in agricultural value-chain, off-grid energy and youth enterprises.
The agreement between Niger State Government and USADF was reached during high-level discussion at the headquarters of the fund in Washington, DC.
This was contained in a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Niger governor, Malam Jibrin Ndache.
Ndache said that Gov. Abubakar Sani-Bello was at USADF Headquarters at the instance of the organization as a follow-up to discussion in October between the state and fund.
The talks began during the Nigerian American Chambers of Commerce/Embassy of the United States, Economic Affairs Section, Nigeria, SMEs Conference which held between Oct. 16 and Oct. 18th.
In his remarks, Sani-Bello revealed that the state government has taken steps in the last three years to take advantage of the huge potential of the states in agriculture through short, medium and long term strategies.
Sani-Bello said the strategies focused on creating value-addition and opening space for small farm holders in rural communities.
He expressed delight with USADF for the interest shown toward the state and speed with which the process of investing in the state was carried out.
“I am glad with the speed with which USADF is willing to fast track the partnership with Niger State Government. I am also happy that the partnership will focus on areas that will address vulnerability in disadvantaged communities.
“We are willing to give the required support to ensure that the partnership work,“ he said.
The governor disclosed that as part of the administration’s response to farmers/herders clash in the country, Niger state was developing grazing reserves for socio-economic and security benefits of the state and Nigeria at large.
“Niger state is leveraging on its huge potential to develop grazing reserves which will cover the entire value-chain.”
Earlier in his opening remarks, Jack Leslie, Chairman, Board of Directors, USADF said that the organization partners with states in line with its vision of “eating pathways to prosperity for underserved communities in Africa”.
Leslie said the partnership with Niger would be demand driven, demand-responsive and align with local needs, aimed at creating inclusiveness and sustaining peace and security.
The partnership is expected to focus on filling skilled deficit, some selected farm produce of comparative advantage like shea butter,soya beans, yam, sesame seeds, rice.
Others included livestock, creating solutions that lead to youth employment and youth enterprises, empowering women through provision of funding all targeted at vulnerable groups in rural communities in the state.
The relationship between Niger State Government and USADF is also expected to fast track the Niger State Accelerated Agriculture Development Scheme (AADS) through development of Farm Enterprise Franchises aimed at setting up Youth cluster Integrated Farming in various parts of the state.
Also speaking, Chairman, Flour Mills of Nigeria (FMN), Mr John Coumantaros, expressed his willingness as a private-sector organisation to play its role in supporting the partnership between Niger and USADF.
The Governor met the USADF team with his Chief of Staff, Mikhail Bmitosahi; Commissioner for Finance, Alhaji Zakari Abubakar; Commissioner for Works and Infrastructural Development, Alhaji Ibrahim Balarabe; Commissioner For Agriculture, Alhaji Haruna Dukku and Special Adviser, Special Duties, Alhaji Umar Alkali.