The Vice President, Policy and State Capability, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Dr. Apollos Nwafor, has revealed that the implementation of AGRA strategic plan in Nigeria would commence in Kaduna, Niger, Nasarawa, Gombe and Oyo states. He said that with the provision of more funding support, the programme would be extended to other states. Nwafor stated this while speaking during the launch of a 5-year strategic plan that seeks to improve and strengthen the resilience and competitiveness of smallholder farmers for food system transformation in Nigeria.
He said AGRA wants to leverage public-private partnerships to bring about policy reforms and build foundations for the predictability of markets and trade of agricultural commodities to boost agri-food SMEs. He noted that the strategy will focus on enhancing climate-smart technologies and practices for sustainable farming, strengthening the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and enhancing the country’s capability to design policies, strategies and flagships for execution and monitoring. He noted that if the policies are right in the agricultural sector, being the largest employer of labour, there would be an improvement in the well-being of the citizenry as well as the economic development of the country.
Nwafor further revealed that AGRA would support both the federal and state governments to drive agriculture to achieve food security as well as encourage private sector investments in the sector. He projected that the new initiative would see to the growth of over 30,000 small and medium enterprises. The Country Manager, AGRA, Dr. Kehinde Makinde also explained that AGRA would be working with some critical stakeholders such as smallholder farmers to achieve food security in Nigeria, stressing that under the strategic plan, 2,500,000 farmers would be reached. Also, board member of AGRA, Ada Osakwe, described the strategic plan as being bold and ambitious, stressing that the plan would promote agribusiness and agri-entrepreneurs in the country.
She revealed that in the last strategic plan, AGRA earmarked over US$35 million in the implementation of the plan. Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, has commended AGRA for its past programmes in Nigeria, which were successful and impactful. He said the Federal Government’s current policy on agriculture aligns with AGRA’s strategic plan in its objectives and mandates. He expressed optimism that the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Federal Government and AGRA would bring about transformation in the food systems of Nigeria.