The U.S Agency for International Development (USAID) on Tuesday in Abuja launched a 15 million dollars Feed the Future (FTF) Nigeria agribusiness activity to improve at least 5,000 small and medium enterprises.
The five-year investment plan will be implemented in seven states in the country, including Kaduna, Niger, Kebbi, Benue, Delta, Ebonyi and Cross Rivers.
The programme also 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.
Dr Adam Saffer, Chief of Party, USAID’s FTF Nigeria activity, said the FTF agribusiness plan seeks to strengthen enabling environment to promote private sector investment in the agricultural sector.
“Nigeria has tremendous potentials to becoming world class producer of grains and feed itself as well as feed the region.
“We believe that Nigeria has the ninth arable land in the world, plenty of good soil, rain, human resources so we are focusing on creating a legal and regulatory framework that is attractive to farmers.
“Secondly, is to get the banks to understand, to be more interested and to 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.
“The third pillar is attracting investment into the agriculture arena, creating new plans, new feed mills and not only bringing in Nigerian investors but international investors.
“At the end of the day, we are looking at the agro business sector of Nigeria being not only able to improve incomes and job opportunities but also better quality food for the Nigerians.
The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, lauded the FTF project, saying it is in line with Nigeria’s plans of improving the agricultural sector and reducing the nation’s reliance on oil.
Osinbajo, who was represented by Dr Andrew Kwasari, his Senior Policy Adviser, said that the synergy between the Federal and State Governments and the United States was strategic to achieving the FTF Nigeria plan.
“When you take 15 million dollars and attempt to raise 300 million dollars that is the way of the future and that is the way spending as an enabler should be done by government and donors partners.
“This is the way that the Federal Government has been working and I believe that we can do more and the more that we can do is enabling the environment for agric businesses to thrive.
“We have seen a lot of progress in working with investors and partners in the agric sector across the country.
“Seeing in this room today the federal government, state governments and the United States working together is a good one.
“I hope to see more of this collaborations and we shall be exploring how best we can further this relationship,” Osinbajo said.
The U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, urged the Federal Government, state governors and partners, to work towards the sustainability of the FTF Nigeria agric business plan.
Symington said that it was the hope of the U.S. to see Nigeria growing something, packaging, producing, selling and even exporting agric produce.
“The goal of this project is to mobilize 300 million dollars of investment in Agriculture, amounting to more than N1 billion.
“It is a big piece but not a sufficient piece to meet the challenges ahead,” Symington said.
Governors and representatives of the implementing states present made commitments to ensuring the success of the FTF agribusiness plan as they called for support for a technology/mechanised driven agricultural system.
“The U.S. govt will work with Nigeria to address market system failures to stimulate growth and encourage innovation that will improve the quality of life of Nigerians”- said Ambassador W. Stuart Symington today at USAID’s #FTF Agribusiness Finance and Investment Summit in Abuja