By Sophia okiasi
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and federal Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Alhaji Sabo Nanono launched an innovative new activity that will leverage the power of entrepreneurship to improve agricultural outcomes in Nigeria.
The new five year, $16.6 million innovative Feed the Future Nigeria Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services Activity will facilitate learning, replication, and scale in agriculture through private sector-embedded extension models to help more than two million small stakeholder farmers make use of new agricultural technologies and practices.
“Through this new partnership, USAID will support Nigeria in its strategy to reduce poverty and food insecurity through agricultural-led development,” said Colin Dreizin, Director of USAID’s Office of Economic Growth and Environment. “It will provide a template for agribusiness firms to access the latest science-based agricultural products and services, as well as private sector agribusiness firms.”
Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services works through existing micro, small, and medium enterprises to meet the information and service needs of smallholder farmers. The new USAID activity will focus on the value chains for maize, rice, soybean, cowpea, and aquaculture.
Building the capacity of Private Extension Service providers to deliver information, inputs, and finance services will help increase the productivity, income, and nutrition of smallholder farmers, and support young, innovative farmers and business leaders through cutting-edge projects that spur entrepreneurship in Nigeria.
By strengthening links between research institutions, public and private extension providers, the activity will help agricultural stakeholders achieve, replicate, scale-up, and sustain innovation. It will also foster collaboration with other agriculture sector donors.
Minister Nanono stated that the new activity is coming at the right time to support Nigeria’s new extension policy, which incorporates the private sector into the nation’s extension service system and seeks to reposition agriculture as a viable commercial business.
“We commend USAID for the innovative extension activity and pledge to make all necessary structures at the Ministry available for its smooth implementation,” the Honorable Minister said.
Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services will provide about 300 small and medium sized businesses new or improved extension and advisory services, which are expected to lead to an estimated $300 million (N116 billion) in increased sales. The activity will also leverage $33.6 million (N14 billion) in private sector investment and $120 million (N46 billion) in agriculture financing to support two million smallholder farmers.
Managed by Winrock International and its team of international partners, the activity will be implemented from 2020-2025, in seven states of Nigeria: Benue, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Kaduna, Kebbi, and Niger.