Seven states in Nigeria, namely, Benue, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Kaduna, Kebbi, and Niger will be receiving funds to assist their agribusiness. The amount is about N188 billion in private debt and equity from The United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Michelle Corzine, the USAID/Nigeria Growth & Environment Office Director, revealed this information in Abuja during the Feed the Future Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity Closeout Ceremony.
In the past 15 years, USAID has been trying to reduce global starvation through the Feed the Future Initiative. Amongst the US government’s 12 feed-the-future focus nations, Nigeria is one of them. The Director stated that the connection of about 18,000 micro, small, and medium agribusinesses to individual investors in the country is due to the Agribusiness investment operations.
She further mentioned that the operation also enables and empowers young individuals and women remarkably. Stating “As a result, over 5,000 female smallholder farmers learned good agronomic practices, financial literacy, and leadership skills and supported 2,600 youth-led businesses to gain access to finance.”
She believes one of the many initiatives aimed at improving economic inclusion growth in the country is through the Agribusiness Investment activity.
The Director concluded by saying “As we celebrate five years of significant achievements in the Agribusiness Investment activity, we urge the Nigerian government and financial sector counterparts to continue to advocate for pro-business policies in the agricultural sector such as the Investment and Security Bill 2022.
“This piece of legislation is essential to increase access to finance for agribusinesses and smallholder farmers in Nigeria. To obtain the best results, it is essential that public and private sector actors continue to collaborate, debate, develop, and monitor the implementation of policy reforms.”
On the initiative, Dr Ernest Afolabi Umakhihe, the permanent secretary (perm sec), of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, agrees that agribusiness financing is one of the major recipes to nourish the country’s Agriculture sector, however, the strategic approach and much-needed requirements and involvement is hugely conflicting.
The perm sec who was representing Fausat Lawal, director of Special Duties in the Ministry, added that food availability in Nigeria is challenged by drought, floods, and erosions saying, “this situation negates the realization of Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Food Security’s mandate and the overall agenda of Mr. President on food security.
“In this regard, the Ministry has keyed into digital Agriculture via the use of information technology equipment along the value chain, for enhanced agricultural development that will help improve agricultural productivity, reduce food wastage, and alleviate the effect of climate change.”