$200m Invested To Assist Nigeria’s Agric Sector Dev In 5 Years – US Govt 

...Says transparent tax and investment rules are needed for meaningful growth

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The Government of the United States has said that it has invested about $200 million in Nigeria’s agriculture sector in the last five years, to improve food security and build household resilience to shocks.

This is just as the Government has said clear and transparent tax and investment rules are needed for meaningful growth in the Country’s economy, particularly for the Agriculture sector.

The Charge d’ Affairs and Deputy Head of Mission of the US Embassy in Nigeria, Mr David Greene while mentioning this, said “The U.S. government is providing broad assistance across Nigeria to support agriculture development and boost food production in Nigeria.”

“USAID invested almost $200 million in agriculture for the last five years to improve food security and build household resilience to shocks,” he disclosed.

He said these investments were done in Adamawa, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Gombe, Kaduna, Kebbi, Niger, and Yobe states.

“We also provided modest grants to 33 private-sector companies to leverage over $150 million in private-sector development, generated $306 million in domestic sales, and created over 23,000 jobs.

Speaking during the launch of a five-year global food security strategy for Nigeria by the US in Abuja on Thursday, Mr Greene said, “Companies and other U.S. private sector stakeholders are eager to help Nigeria improve agricultural productivity, trade, and food security. However, clear and transparent tax and investment rules are needed for meaningful growth.”

“For example, this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture inaugurated a $22 million, five-year investment in Nigeria’s cocoa value chain, spanning seven states. The investment improves rural livelihoods by building capacity in cocoa productivity, trade capacity, and traceability.

“Last month, I toured Ekiti State, where I visited a cassava farm expanding production with U.S. private sector investment. I also heard how the U.S. Department of Agriculture brought 150 dairy cattle from the United States and trained farm veterinarians to increase fresh milk production on one farm by 10,000 liters per day.

“Exchanges and fellowships to study in the U.S. are a core part of the U.S. government’s history in Nigeria. In the last two years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has also sponsored more than a dozen scientific exchange fellows to study at U.S. agricultural universities and 30 private sector stakeholders to visit the United States, all so they can come back to improve Nigeria’s crop production, animal breeding, efficient pesticide use, and trade capacity.

He recalled that, “In February 2023, the U.S. Department of State launched the Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils in partnership with the African Union and the Food and Agriculture Organization.

“The U.S. is advancing the partnership by directing $150 million globally towards USAID and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) crop and soil activities and undertaking public-private partnerships to develop and execute a research agenda focused on African indigenous crop varieties.

“The United States also supports the AU’s upcoming Africa Fertilizer and Soil Health Summit in Nairobi in May, which will provide an opportunity to collaborate with African governments and institutions on the development of soil action plans.”

Furthermore, he said, “In January 2024, Nigeria recorded an over thirty-five (35) percent increase in food prices, making it difficult for the 84 million Nigerians living below the poverty line to buy food. If we project out into the future, global food demand will double by 2050, and yet at the same time key staple crops are showing a decrease of up to 30 percent.”

Attributing the current food crisis in Nigeria to such factors as insecurity, inflation, currency devaluation, the increased cost of inputs, climate change, and post-harvest loss among others, the Charge d’ Affairs said the Federal Government “must create an enabling environment that supports private sector-led growth and entrepreneurship.”

He said that through the country plan, the U.S. government will build sustainable food systems, promote innovation, and advance trade to break the vicious cycle of poverty and hunger, adding that  It entails adopting a market system approach to achieve three overarching goals vis a vis To Increase the productivity and competitiveness of horticulture, maize, and rice value chains; Enhance the capacities of vulnerable households to respond to shocks; and Improve access to nutritious and high-quality foods.

“Also, while climate change is causing extreme weather conditions like drought and floods, it is even more challenging for small-holder farmers to increase yields and incomes. Ranked the sixth least prepared globally to confront climate change; Nigeria must focus on adaptation if food security is to be achieved.

“We are working to answer this question by developing innovations to assist the millions of farmers in Nigeria, including the 70 percent of smallholder farmers who still rely on rain-fed agriculture.

“Food must be available to buy, and prices must be affordable for all Nigerians.  The Nigerian government should embrace the adoption of genetically modified crops to boost the productivity and income of smallholder farmers while removing trade restrictions, including food and agricultural import bans. Competition and free trade foster creativity and efficiency.

“We look forward to our continued partnership as we implement the U.S. government’s Global Food Security Strategy for Nigeria, which will boost agriculture productivity and drive agriculture-led economic growth over the next five years,” he added.

In his remarks, the Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Security Aliyu Abdullahi disclosed several efforts by the President Tinubu administration to tackle the food crisis challenges in the country head-on saying that, “For instance, since last year, the Federal Government through the Agric Ministry set a target of 120, 000 hectares of wheat plantation and harvest and to date, we have achieved 115, 000 hectares for wheat alone.

“As we speak, states like Niger, Nasarawa, Kogi. Akwa Ibom and Lagos among others have begun harvesting rice. And with the rainy season commencing soon, more agricultural development will be embarked upon to make food available to Nigerians.”

While commending the United States government for the partnership and the five year food security initiative, the minister said, “Our strategy is to stabilize the situation and lay a solid foundation so that Nigeria will never relapse into this type of food crisis again.”

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