The Federal Government through the African Union Development Agency-New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD) Nigeria, has flagged off a $2bn project to strengthen SmallHolder farmers.
The National Coordinator, AUDA-NEPAD Nigeria, Princess Gloria Akobundu, who said this on Tuesday in Abuja, said this was to promote food sufficiency and zero hunger, as part of strategy to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on the citizenry.
She was speaking at a two-day summit/technical round table on Innovative Strengthening of Smallholder Farmers Capabilities Towards Productive Land Restoration Amid COVID-19 in Nigeria.
According to her, Nigeria spends up to $6bn yearly on importation, stressing that the project was actually geared towards encouraging local businesses in farming so as to curb unemployment at the grassroots.
Akobundu said the project which will be implemented in phases at the state and local government levels involve 22 pilot states including Imo, Akwa Ibom, Nasarawa, Kaduna, Ekiti states among others.
She said, “This is a ten-year plan for food sufficiency and zero hunger in Nigeria, in our continent and ECOWAS region. We are addressing hunger with bottom-to-top approach involving local farmers, the farmers association, state and local governments, the clergy and traditional rulers across 22 pilot states ensure that grassroots poverty is eradicated, COVID-19 effects are mitigated and gainful employment provided for women and youths.
“President Mohammadu Buhari declared in his nine-point agenda that one of his priorities is to see youths gainfully employed and become resourceful. He assured of taking 1 million Nigerians out of poverty and this is one of the strategic moves to achieve that agenda.”
On his part, the Head of Focal Security Unit and Manager of AFRADO Secretariat AUDA-NEPAD continental, Mamadou Diakhite, said the programme was being implemented under the continental initiative called Africa Forest and Landscape Restoration Initiative signed by Nigeria and 20 other African countries with the aim to restore 100million nectar of degrading land and forest by 2030.
Speaking earlier, the National project Steering Committee (NPSC) Chairman, and Governor of Kwara State, Abdulrahman AbdulRazaq, said that investment in agriculture remains a potent and reliable antidote to poverty in the country.
He said: “CBN has been doing a lot intervention for agriculture and at state level we have key into it, we are ready to showcase that in Kwara State and beyond.”