The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has launched a five-year agribusiness investment programme that targets US$300 million for seven states of Nigeria.
The Feed the Future programme will facilitate $200 million in new lending and $100 million in new investment across the five crops in Kaduna, Niger, Kebbi, Benue, Delta, Ebonyi and Cross River.
It is also aimed at integrating thousands of micro small and medium enterprises and producer organisations as commercial actors in the rice, maize, soybeans, aquaculture and cowpea value chains.
The United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Stuart Symington, said that the world cares about Nigeria because of Nigeria’s size and population.
Nigeria is great because the number is big but if that big number does not have equally big opportunities, dreams and equally big crops and livestock production, then what looks great in a distance can become a challenge. The goal of this project is to mobilize $300 million of investment in [Nigeria] agriculture.”
Symington said through the initiative, “the US government aims to work with the people of Nigeria to improve the ease of doing business in the agricultural sector, mitigate the risk to lending institutions and promotes investment opportunities for agribusiness to expand and scale up their operations.”
The project will run from December 2018 to December 2023 with the US government through USAID Feed the Future initiative providing $15.7 million for the activity to be implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA).
The activity will also expand the number of financial institutions with growing agribusiness finance portfolios in focused value chains and build the capacity of financial institutions and linkages with agribusiness borrowers and lenders, reaching to least 5,000 SMEs.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, represented by his Senior Policy Adviser, Dr Andrew Kwasari, described the agric sector as key to the growth of the nation’s economy as it employs the largest proportion of the nation’s pollution, the youths.
Governors Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi and Ben Ayade of Cross River states who attended the event along with representatives other benefitting states all thanked the United States government for showing interest in Nigeria agriculture as a potential for creating millions of jobs in the country.