The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on Monday launched a two-million dollars U.S. Government’s agricultural and private sector partnership to promote agricultural production in Nigeria.
U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission, Ms Maria Brewer, at the launch at the U.S. Embassy, Abuja, said that the two years` partnership was with two local companies – Babban Gona and Hello Tractor.
According to her, the two partnerships 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, Baban Gona would help to 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 yields and potentially increase their income up to 30 per cent.
“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, “ she added.
She explained that with the partnerships the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation programme would provide training, financing, and mentoring opportunities to entrepreneurs and young agricultural entrepreneurs alike.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, at launch commended USAID for its support for Nigeria at its critical moment.
Ogbeh stressed the need for investment in the agricultural sector which, he said, 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, “ he said.
The USAID Mission Director in Nigeria, Mr Michael Harvey, said that under the Feed the Future initiative USAID would partner with private sector to support smallholder farmers in Nigeria.
According to him, through the 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 youths in agriculture and helped build capacity of young entrepreneurs to help grow their businesses, create jobs and boost economic growth in Nigeria, “ he said.
The Chief Executive Officer of Hello Tractor, Mr Jehiel Oliver, said that through the partnership smallholder farmers would gain access to tractor-hire services.
Oliver said that 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 benefit from trade skills to repair Smart Tractor.
A representative of Baban Gona, Ms Chinwe Osuji, said that through the partnership the company would create positive impact for 20,000 smallholder farmers.
She said that the company addressed the challenge of small farmers by forming strong cooperative societies called Trust Groups, which would enable farmer to gain access to new markets.
She said that Baban Gona would provide member farmers with services designed to optimise crop yields production costs, and prices of agricultural outputs.
She said that the model helps to increase profitability of smallholder farmers and would contribute to household food security and improved livelihoods.