Farm experts take stock to tackle food security in Nigeria

A recently harvested demo plot in Oyo state with farmers in jubilation over bumper yield from an improved weed controlled plots

Farm experts drawn from the diverse field of the country’s agricultural value chain rose from a two-day meeting, at the Reiz continental hotel Abuja, on Tuesday, hearing how a German development initiative, the Green Innovations Centres for the Agriculture and Food Sector in Nigeria, has trained over 27,000 farmers and is setting sail to create partnership with rice, cassava, maize and potatoes processors and input dealers to secure the country’s food future.

The coordinator for the Green Innovations Centre in Nigeria, Annemarie Matthess, who organized the meeting, said while “the purpose of this meeting is to have a stock taking of what has been achieved in the last 27 months and create partnership with rice, cassava, maize and potatoes processors and input dealers,” the centre’s strategic goal is to train over 200,000 smallholders and processing companies, boost employment growth with at least 1000 new jobs, and increase in income by an average of 20 per cent for 170,000 smallholder farms.

Ms. Matthess said experts at the meeting gathered as top executives, agricultural entrepreneurs, finance experts, channel distributors, agricultural professors, farmers, and producers with the aim of “knowledge sharing on innovations between research and advisory institutions, cooperatives and associations, the distribution of innovations, and advising Nigerian companies to improve processing and make it more economical.”

The Green Innovations Centre, GIZ, is an initiative commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and has the additional mandate of taking innovation centres to Institutions across Nigeria, said Ms. Matthess who doubles in her role as the head of programme of the Sustainable Smallholders Agricultural business programme in the country.

In this role, the initiative is working with Federal Colleges of Agriculture to take up business relevant curricular to complete the conventional training for student and to make young people fit for Agriculture.

Speaking at the event, the Head of Cooperation at the German Embassy, Christopher Wenzel, welcomed participants and spoke on the challenges of Nigerian youth and their need to embrace the lucrative business opportunities in agriculture and reject the mainstream narrative on agriculture as an enterprise defined by ‘hard labour.’

Speaking to PREMIUM TIMES, Baba Ashamara who is the team leader for agriculture and finance consultants working for the Green Innovations Centre, said, through the innovations and interventions of the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Farmers Business School (FBS), the scheme has trained over 2,000 Nigerian farmers on improved processing techniques on Rice and Cassava.

Mr. Ashamara said the future looks good for smallholder farmers and processors along the four intervention areas for Rice, Cassava, Potatoes and Maize believing the programme will increase and create a better condition for the processors to improve their investment and profitability on the farmers who have embraced farming as a business and not as a way of life.

The event, he remarked, has created a clear road map with about 30 partner companies and processing companies around skills training, contract farming, improved processing to the advantage of farmers.

Mr. Ashamara further said Green Innovations Centre is in collaboration with two big time agripreneurs, OLAM and NOTORE, on demonstration plot which is ongoing in Kaduna and Kano with a phenomenal outcome.

The innovation centre started in 2015 with the aim of eradicating hunger in Africa with a theme ONE WORLD NO HUNGER. The innovations work with four value chains in seven states across Nigeria. The stakeholders meeting is usually organized every six months to assess progress that has been made in the work and also plan a roadmap for activities for the next six to twelve months.

The initiative hopes to increase impact through new partnerships on mechanization, ICT, TVET, processing efficiency as well as policies on easy, accessible information, seed varieties and Cost-effective extension services.

Looking ahead of its future, Ms. Annemarie said she is optimistic about Green Innovation Centre reaching its goals in the next two years in Nigeria.

“There will be impacts in terms of yield, income and job creations. If this continues this way, we will extend our expectations in Nigeria,” she said.


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