163 views | Akanimo Sampson | November 14, 2020
At a meeting with stakeholders in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, the USAID-funded Feed-the-Future Nigeria Integrated Agriculture Activity (IAA) has outlined its proposed second-year work plan.
Virtual participants, along with 58 people on location, attended the seminar.
In his welcome address, IAA Chief of Party, Prakash Kant Silwal, highlighted some achievements from the Activity’s first year of implementation.
In 2019, the Activity set up functional offices for the 47 staff in Adamawa and Borno states, digitally registered 62,666 farming households in the 12 implementing Local Government Areas and signed implementation agreements with public and private sector extension and market actors.
Also, the Activity developed crop production guides and trained 52,734 smallholder farmers on improved agricultural production practices and new technologies for increased yields and income.
As part of efforts to develop the seed system in Adamawa and Borno, the Activity identified and, in collaboration with the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), trained 1,065 Community-Based Seed Producers (CBSP) in seed production and marketing techniques, and facilitated their linkage to foundation seeds from research institutes.
In facilitating access to finance for farmers, the Activity signed agreements with the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL)/ Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to provide single-digit interest rate credit to farmers through the Anchor Borrowers Program.
Up to 25,472 smallholder farmers were considered to receive loans during the upcoming dry and wet farming seasons. In Borno State, loan applications for 91 cowpea farmers were approved and disbursed.
The Activity trained 1,205 women in homestead farming, especially vegetables, to improve household nutritional status and increase women’s income in the communities.
They also trained 2,293 youth and women in agricultural production and entrepreneurship to reduce unemployment in the region and prevent idle youth from being recruited by insurgents.
USAID Senior Agriculture Economist and the Activity’s Agreement Officer’s Representative, Dr Charles Iyangbe, said he was happy to see normalcy returning and hopeful that USAID will still achieve the field visit objectives through partner DEV TECH.
He also said that despite the low number of 98 farmer loans, USAID is quite pleased with the Activity’s achievements so far.
Iyangbe highlighted factors that all actors need to transform agriculture in Nigeria: the input market, output market, and finance—three key factors that cause inefficiencies among smallholder farmers.
“We don’t even need to gather these farmers for training anymore, but once we fix these three factors, inefficiency will be solved. We need to improve these to move forward”, he stated.
Special Adviser to the CBN Governor on Development Finance, Anthony Ifechukwu, declared the workplan a step in the right direction for Nigerian agriculture in particular and the economy as a whole.
In his goodwill message, Dr Razak Oyeleke of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) highlighted sustainability, nutrition, and finance as critical issues to address in Nigeria’s North-East.
Representing the Managing Director of NIRSAL, Nura Abubakar Abba, stated that out of the 62,000 farmers aggregated by IITA, between 25,000 and 30,000 were able to get financing from CBN up to the tune of ₦1.2 billion.
Due to the cropping calendar, NIRSAL could not meet up with the disbursement. Despite the challenges, however, there are still positive stories to tell.
The meeting summarised the first year’s achievements and outlined the second year’s activities. Team leads presented the workplan on the three components, building on the successes recorded in year one such as training and outreach of stakeholders, strengthening the market system and networks serving smallholder farmers disenfranchised by conflict, and engaging women and youth to turn the critical number in the production phase into the enterprise phase at the end of the Activity.
IITA is implementing the Activity in collaboration with International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS).