From: Bamidele Fashube, Abuja
The African Development Bank (AfDB) is planning to mobilise the sum of $800 million to support the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) project.
TAAT Coordinator, Mr. Krishan Bheenick disclosed this on Monday during Capacity Development and Technology Outreach programme organised by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) in partnership with AfDB and TAAT in Abuja.
Bheenick explained that aside the training, the project is meant to support 40, 000 farmers in Africa including Nigeria.
He added that already seed fund investment of $120 million will be made available in tranches of $40, 000 for the project execution.
His words: “It is $120 million in total. It’s in three ways of funding of $40 million each time. The current span of the project is between 2018 and 2021, so it’s about four years for the seed money for investment. The bank itself is first of all expecting the countries to invest money either they get it through a grant or loan and also other donors and international agencies can join the programme.
“One other figure that has been mentioned is that across the continent, we are expected to reach 40 million farmers. In terms of the fund we are trying to mobilise for the implementation of the project is around $800 million. But the issue is that it is not so much how much money but how effective because if we are able to convince the countries that these are worth investing in, that’s when they will invest. The communities also need to invest their own time, efforts in terms of mobilisation.”
The Lead Specialist, Innovation Systems and Partnerships for FARA, Dr. Oluwole Fatunbi during his remark described the training as important considering the roles of agriculture extension workers in boosting farm production.
He said the 70 people being trained from across schools, research institutes, and Non-Governmental Organisations are expected to train 50 others.
Dr. Fatunbi explained further that 400 innovation platforms would be setup across the participating countries solely to meet the needs of at least 25, 000 farmers in each of the innovation hubs.
The focal person for the Nigeria Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (NIFAAS), Prof. Tunji Arokoyo decried current ratio of farmers and agricultural extension officers in the nation.
He advised the government to commit itself to the TAAT project stressing that donors are currently driving ADPs in the country as a result of poor budgetary allocation.
He said the country currently operates on ratio 1:30,000 famers contrary to 1:800.
The agriculture expert attributed this failure to poor funding of Agriculture Development Project officers at the federal and state levels, adding that ADPs in local government are completely non-existing.
However, he urged the Federal Government to increase funding to the agriculture sector.