From: Bamidele Fashube
THE Federal Government in collaboration with Manobi Africa PLC, Mauritius based firm on Thursday inaugurated the National Agcelerant Technical Committee.
The Committee is to mobilize financial support for smallholder farmers and also provide technical assistance towards improving their capacity in area of new Agronomic practices.
“Our agricultural sector is characterized by low productivity, under- performing agricultural value chains, food import level negatively affecting our trade balance among others,” says Alhaji Mohammed Sabo Nanono, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD).
“We need to start reversing this trend by harnessing the hug potentials in the agricultural sector for sustainable development through partnership and engagement with wiling stakeholders who genuinely believe in our beloved nation, and ready to lend us helping hands”.
According to him, AgCelerant is a novel Value Chain orchestration platform connecting smallholder contract farming and producers with banks, insurers and input providers and agro-industries to control risks and improve the productivity, security and welfare of millions of farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“The promotion of phygital Agriculture to encapsulate the emergent opportunity for robust physically-based, digitally – driven solution to improve Agricultural production and productivity in Nigeria towards sustainable and transparent global food systems of the future cannot be over-emphasized”, the Minister added in a statement signed by Ezeaja Ikemefuna for the ministry’s Director of Information.
The committees’ terms of reference, as stated by the Minister include to: Develop areas of partnership and come up with clear objectives of the progamme; Develop strategies and implementation framework for the programme; Prepare work plans and budgets over the programme lifetime and year one with activities identified; Draft MOUs that will guide the involvement and roles rationalization between the partners, among others.
The Committee is chaired by Dr. Mohammed Bello Umar, the Permanent Secretary (FMARD), Co- chair by International Crop Research institute for semi-arid tropics (ICRISAT) / Manobi Africa PLC. Other members include Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Bank of Agriculture (BoA), while Federal Department of Agricultural Extension (FDAE) is the secretariat.
In his opening remarks, Umar, represented by the Director, (FDAE), Mrs. Karima Babangida, said rice imports may increase to 5 million tons by 2028.
“According to the FAO, Nigeria food imports are rising and projected, for rice alone, to reach 5 million tons by 2028. This dependency on food imports applies throughout the commodities, we consume, resulting in a trade imbalance that severely dents our national budget and threatens to aggravate”.
He identified need to improve on the informal, unstructured and unorganized value chains.
“This first national AgCelerant Technical Committee will lay the footsteps for the acceleration of Nigeria’s Agricultural Sector”.
In his remarks, Daniel Annerose, the Chief Executive Officer, Manobi Africa pledged continuous support towards improving food security in the country.