For its crucial contributions to enhancing the Nigerian agricultural sector, Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, has acclaimed the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, describing it as a dependable and invaluable partner in progress.
Mr Ogbeh made this commendation recently, while receiving the Foundation’s Deputy Director for Agricultural Development, Tom Kehoe, who paid him a courtesy call at the Federal Ministry in Abuja.
The minister was full of praise for the Foundation’s support of the State Partnership for Agriculture (SPA), driven by the Synergos Institute in Nigeria, which has not only enabled critical linkages across the country’s agricultural stakeholders, but equally supported smallholder farmers. These, the SPA has done, while enhancing issues of nutrition, and generally assisting in the development of the agricultural ecosystem in Nigeria.
Synergos’ State Partnership for Agriculture (SPA) has quite significantly, in over three years, created a platform for bringing together the federal government and a number of state governments in alignment on agricultural policy and strategy.
According to Mr Ogbeh, “this programme has greatly strengthened the capacity of the ministry to deliver thought-driven programmes including the creation of links for smallholder farmers in yam value chain for yam export; it has catalysed innovative technology which transforms cassava leaves into pellets in rural areas to feed cattle and livestock etc. These programmes would not have been possible today without the funding Gates especially provides.”
Whilst thankful for the support to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture through the programme on the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), the minister also observed the foundation’s progressively layered programmes of assistance. These have enhanced the capacities of the ministry in the crucial areas in which it functions, and made Mr Ogbeh reaffirm the federal government’s commitment to more efficient spending coordination with donors, particularly with this administration’s re-introduction of the Projects Coordination Unit.
A key flank of the Gates Foundation’s support to the agriculture sector in Nigeria has seen the Synergos Institute carry out critical interventions by pioneering a strategic approach to the effective resolution of the farmers and herdsmen’s conflict, the championing of yam export efforts, and creation of increased value around ginger processing in Kaduna State. Moreover, there have been the innovations around converting cassava peels into high nutrition feed for livestock, as well as linking cassava farmers to starch processors in Kogi State etc., which have huge potentials.