Heifer to lift 10m Nigerian households, cut food imports

Heifer International has announced an ambitious target of aiding about 10 million Nigerian households involved in agriculture close their income gaps by 2030, and help the country cut massive food imports as well.

Rufus Idris, country director for Heifer Nigeria, who spoke on, “Youth and Technology: The Future of Nigeria’s Agriculture” on the sidelines of the just concluded Nigeria Economic Summit (NES#27) in Abuja announced this plan, adding that technology remains the most effective strategy to attract youths into agriculture.

Heifer International is a global development organisation on a mission to end hunger and poverty in a sustainable way, through working with farmers, their communities and market system actors to identify and invest in business opportunities that deliver sustainable living incomes, inclusive and resilient economies.

For 77 years, Heifer International has assisted more than 36 million people in 21 countries (in Africa, Asia, and the Americas, including the United States) to end hunger and poverty.

“As part of its ambitious target to help additional 10 million households close the living income gap by 2030, Heifer International has now extended its footprint to Nigeria, and today marks our soft launch of Heifer Nigeria,” Idris stated.

Read also: Nigerians groaning under galloping staple food prices

According to him, with Heifer’s e-programms in 11 African countries, Nigeria is very pivotal to ending hunger and poverty in Africa.

“To secure our future there is a fierce urgency of now to address the issues of: Food insecurity and massive food importation associated with the underperformance of our agricultural sector and food system; high unemployment among youths; and the dwindling economy. Youth creativity and technology in agriculture will drive growth in Nigeria.”

He said that already 20 tractors have been given out to youths who would then deploy them to assist farmers in the preparations of agricultural lands across the country, as a first step.

According to him, Heifer is employing strategic private and public sector partnerships to unlock demand and market opportunities, as well as, investing in priority value chains, while leveraging innovation and emerging agricultural technologies to reach transformational scale.

“Our first Signature Program for Nigeria is tagged “NAIJA UNLOCK”, aimed at unlocking Nigeria’s potential for food self-sufficiency, working with smallholder farmers and market actors to fill local demand while closing the living income gap for families in selected value chains, starting with tomato, rice and poultry value chain.”

To support the design of transformational programs and to reposition their work in Africa, Heifer International recently completed a survey of 11 African countries: “The future of Africa’s agriculture; an assessment of the role of youth and technology”.

In a virtual presentation, Heifer’s senior vice president for Africa programmes, Adesuwa Ifedi, analyzed the opportunities and key findings from the 11-country survey which indicated that Nigeria’s agricultural sector could surpass oil, in forex earnings, with the application of innovation and latest agric-tech.

Ifedi was optimistic with the success recorded by Heifer in other countries, the narrative of the Nigerian agricultural sector would change, within a short time.

In his speech, the director, department of agriculture extension, ministry of agriculture noted that there is hardly any economy in the world that can developed without leveraging on the potential of the agricultural sector.

He said Nigeria has great potential to surmount its food and human security problems, but must pursue it with determination and political will.

“Therefore, we must see agriculture as not only a way of subsistence, but as business and as economic activity that can generate employment for sustainable income.

He said the implication of not surmounting the insecurity of Nigeria has far reaching effect on food security.

“There’s need to guard against further escalation of insecurity, farmers should be brought back to their communities and such communities should be rebuilt,” he urged.

According to him, youth unemployment has been identified as Nigeria’s biggest problems and the country needs younger and more entrepreneurial commercial farmers, since the “aging population of farmers are ebbing out, posing a challenge to the system.”

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