The British American Tobacco Nigerian Foundation (BATNF) has clinched the ‘Best Sustainability in Agriculture’ and ‘Best Sustainability in Youth and Economic Development awards for excellence in sustainability at the West Africa Innovation Award held recently in Lagos.
The West Africa Innovation Awards seeks to promote excellence, creativity, and innovation among brands and brand professionals in the West Africa region.
The award which is in its tenth edition was graced by eminent personalities in government, brand industry, and integrated marketing communications community across the region.
Ololade Johnson, general manager, and Fatai Afolabi, a member of the foundation’s technical committee, received the award on behalf of the BATNigeria Foundation.
Johnson expressed how passionate the BAT Nigeria Foundation is about rural farmers while receiving the awards.
“Our customers are rural farmers. It is our mandate to help them earn a sustainable income and we have been able to do that successfully in 19 years since inception, improving the lives of farmers and enabling them to grow from subsistence to commercial agriculture,” she said.
“We are aware that people in the rural community are often ignored. It is our commitment and priority to ensure that they grow with the rest of the world,” she said.
In a chat with media men on the sidelines of the awards, Afolabi described the gesture as a worthy recognition of the diligent efforts of the BATNigeria Foundation team, over the years, in promoting good agricultural practices among rural smallholder farmers and in inspiring as well as empowering youths in Nigeria in agriculture and other enterprises.
“The BAT Nigeria Foundation is very passionate about young people and that is why one of our pillars of engagement is formed around youth employment and empowerment with particular emphasis on agriculture and the development of its value chains,” he said.
“As a foundation, we reach out to young people through the provision of seed grants to scale up their agribusinesses whilst also providing mentorship and internship opportunities, which is why we are being recognized here today. We have also established the #WealthisHere initiative, a campaign developed to reinvigorate the entrepreneurial spirit in the younger generation through sustainable agriculture,” he added.
Since its inception in 2002, the BATN Foundation has made a huge impact in agriculture, especially among rural smallholder farmers who account for 70 percent of agricultural produce in the country.
The foundation has invested a total of N2billion to support rural smallholder farmers across the 36 states, including the FCT, in sustainable agriculture engagement thereby improving the lives of smallholder farmers, their families, and their communities.
It has also promoted youth engagement and provided access to technical support, employment, and resources for young people to thrive in the agricultural sector.
One of its landmark projects the ‘Farmers for the Future’ introduced in 2019 has financed agricultural enterprises of young graduates particularly the Farmers for the Future (F4F) project.
This is in addition to seed funding (input supply) given to rural farmers to cultivate their food crops and move them from subsistence to commercial agriculture.
To date, the BATNigeria Foundation has implemented over 240 projects in 36 states of the Federation including the FCT, impacting over 1.2 million beneficiaries.
Other categories of awards were won by other firms, including Lafarge Africa, FHA Mortgage Bank, Adept Lessor, Norremberger Financial Group, NSIA Insurance, Foreshore Waters, Suru Homes, BOAPr, Proficient Capital, Global Accelrex, Vektr Capital, JSP Communications, among others.