The United State Agency for International Development (USAID) Feed the Future Project has launched a 15 million dollars a new activity to nurture an enabling environment that will promote and facilitate agribusiness in Nigeria known as Feed the Future Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity.
The new activity aims at growing the initial 15 million dollars investment to 300 million dollars with an expectation of 200 million dollars in new agricultural finance and 100 million dollars in new agricultural investments.
The programme is also aimed to integrating five thousand Micro Small and Medium Enterprises and producer organisations in the rice, maize, soybean, aquaculture and cowpea.
It will focus on, improving the ease of doing business in the agricultural sector, broaden access to finance by mitigating the credit risk of agribusinesses, and promoting investment opportunities for agribusinesses to expand and scale up operations.
Speaking at the Launch, the US Ambassador to Nigeria, W. Stuart Symington said that the Feed the Future activity will facilitate the growth of existing private sector agribusinesses and work with other selected agribusinesses. “Through this initiative, the U. S. government aims to work with the people of Nigeria to improve the ease of doing business in the agricultural sector, mitigate the risks to lending institutions, and promote investment opportunities for agribusinesses to expand and scale up their operations” He said.
The initiative is an activity set up to boost, mobilize funds and promote the Nigeria Agribusiness which started in December 2018 and is expected to last till December 2023.
According to the Chief of Party, USAID’s FTF Nigeria activity Dr Adam Saffer, the activity would create an enabling environment for a better agro-produce, expand access to financial services, and improve investment in the agro-business. “ achieving the desired goal, 300 million U S dollars will be subsequently injected into the activity, create an environment for gender integration and youth integration, to ensure the participation of youths and women in Agribusinesses.
Dr Saffer, added that it will improve ease of doing business in the agricultural sector, broadening access to finance and promoting investment opportunities.
“Nigeria has tremendous potentials to becoming world class producer of grains and feed itself as well as feed the region, and we believe that Nigeria has the fertile land in the world, good soil, rain, human resources so we are focusing on creating a legal and regulatory framework that is attractive to farmers.
“the next thing to do is getting the banks to understand, become more interested and reduce the risk of making loans in agriculture, so this could be bank loans but they could also be input loans from the agro processors.
“Nigeria is one of the greatest potential to take advantage of the agric sector, and we hope that the agro business sector of Nigeria not only able to improve incomes and job opportunities but also better quality food for the Nigerians, lower import of food with better pricing along the value chain,” He said.
Also speaking, the Governor of Kebbi State, North West Nigeria, Abubakar Bagudu, said that the Feed The Future agribusiness would to strengthen enabling environment by promoting private sector investment in the agricultural sector.
“The USAID’s intervention is apt and would create a connecting platform between local farmers, small business owners, investors and financiers like the banks.
A lot of Nigerians are hardworking but do not have the requisite support to integrated into the market, therefore Kebbi state government has been doing a lot to ensure progress and unlock agricultural potential in the state, and significant success has been recorded in the process.
According to the Governor Bagudu, “the idea is a welcome development, for all policy makers, who are obligated help their citizens get better value for their farm produce, and can contribute to global prosperity”.
“We have tested from the policy making point of view in the past four, five years and the Federal Government has led the way and President Muhammadu Buhari has put economy policies under the able Vice President.
“And together we have created a policy, environment that has eased business and has increased significantly with companies, who have taken the challenge being rewarded with high returns on capital.
“We are excited that the Feed The Future programme of which Kebbi state is one of the seven states in the focal area will furthermore enhance our access to agribusiness. And also to unlock our access, more capital, particularly we need private equity capital, insurance companies and banks that will be able to support us in a more bigger way,”.
The Governor of Benue State, Dr. Samuel Ortom said the Feed the Future plan is timely, because agriculture is and has become the biggest employer of labour.
Dr Ortom, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Mr. Terwase Orbunde said that “for agriculture to become the biggest employer of labour, technology is the key and Benue State being the food basket of the nation would implement the Feed the Future Agribusiness Investment in line with its already existing programmes for success.
For Governor of Cross River, Ben Ayade, Cross Rivers has taken agribusiness as a priority in the state and is committed to making agriculture sector very productive in Nigeria.“The agric sector can only thrive with an improved technology, therefore called for federal government’s support in improving technology in the agricultural sector, which would contribute greatly to the USAID’s agribusiness investment plan.
“You need advanced technology in agriculture. Money and technology must have a great intercourse to bring true value to agriculture, but Agriculture technology is a bit primitive in Africa, it is difficult to support and take agriculture as a core business and so government on its own part must also provide a technology mechanism. There is need for new incentives so Nigerian government must do linkages and hold technology agriculture investors together in order to attract investors.
Three hundred million Dollars is expected to be subsequently injected into the five year programme with fifteen point seven million Dollars already released.
The five-year investment plan will be implemented in seven states of the country, namely Benue, Kaduna, Niger, Kebbi, , Delta, Ebonyi and Cross Rivers.