Food Security: U.S, Nigeria sign Declaration of Partnership

Mnena Iyorkegh, Abuja

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As part of efforts to boost food security, the United States and Nigerian governments has signed a Declaration of Partnership to launch a five year feed the future Nigeria Country plan.

The US Charge d’Affairs Kathleen FitzGibbon, stated this at the launch of feed the future global food security strategy in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Ms FitzGibbon, said the initiative seeks to sustainably reduce global poverty, malnutrition, and hunger.

“Under the plan we are committed topartnering with Nigeria putting food decision to action, we are imploring you to put your hard work down and negotiating the plan

“Now is time to launch our implementation, the U.S. government has invested 165 million dollars in agriculture and economic development in Nigeria over the past four years, this new country plan anticipates continuing investments in Nigeria agriculture over the next five years. We continue to partner with various state and the federal government.

“The Country Plan combines new and existing projects and will connect farmers with suppliers, improve agriculture extension services and inputs, and stimulate market growth to present new opportunities to millions of household to improve their standing of living and quality of life”.

“The private sector is critical to this effort with roles and with responsibilities and incentives that are clear and transparent they will become the main drivers of economic development to achieve long-lasting success in making agriculture a robust contributor to Nigeria’s prosperity and Nigeria’s health,” she added.

According to Mr Colin Dreizin, Director, USAID Economic Growth and Environment, the Plan serves as a blueprint for inclusive and sustainable agriculture-led economic growth and strengthening resilience among people and the system.

“Since inception, the initiative had strengthened efforts at ensuring food security for millions by working to address the root causes of poverty and hunger, in spite of the progress recorded, significant work still needed to be done.

“However we build house hold communities to resolve the shocks, this approach is fundamental to building resilient especially to fragile area. We connect our humanitarian response with focus on saving lives to sustainable development, and there is need more collective efforts and a re think of how to approach coordination and collaboration,” he explained.

The representative of the Nigerian Government at the event, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Budget & National Planning, Mr.Ernest A. Umakhihe, noted that the launched strategic plan will bring immense contribution to national aspiration.

“The Agricultural sector remain fundamental to Nigeria’s economic growth and development. The feed the Future Plan that we have signed today is derived from the development objective assistance agreement DOAG, between the US government and Nigeria in September 2015.

“This initiative is expected to improve agriculture production and process, expand finance and boost market capabilities with assistance to more than 1.5 million farmers and their families. With this it is believe that our belief that this initiative will reduce hunger, malnutrition and poverty among the Nigerian people,” Umakhihe stated.

In order for Nigeria feed it growing population in the future, Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi state noted that Nigeria needs to increase funding for the agriculture sector.

“Nigerian government has approved the sum 23 billion Naira to support states affected by flooding in the country, similarly, 9 billion Naira has also been made available to states with Internally Displaced persons to enable them return to agriculture and boost their income,” the Governor said.

One of the focus states for the implementation of the feed the future project is Benue state in North Central Nigeria.

According to the Deputy Governor of the state Engr. Benson Abounu the state is using systematic planning and implementation method to boost agricultural productivity in the state.

Engr. Abounu said to improve the quality of agriculture, the state government is partnering with the University of Agriculture in the area of soil testing in order to boost nutrition and quality agriculture produce.

The Feed the Future Country Plan focuses on Benue, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Kaduna, Kebbi, and Niger states, as well as the four northeastern states of Adamawa, Borno, Gombe, and Yobe.

It will develop five of the government’s prioritized agricultural value chains with the strongest potential for increased productivity and enhanced market linkages which are aquaculture, cowpeas, maize, rice, and soybeans.

Peace PIAK