The African Union Development Agency-New Partnership for Africa`s Development (AUDA-NEPAD), is to empower smallholder farmers to cushion the effects of COVID-19 in Nigeria.
The National Coordinator of AUDA-NEPAD, Ms Gloria Akobundu, made this known in Abuja during the virtual stakeholders’ induction meeting of the National Steering Committee on innovative to strengthening smallholder farmers` capabilities in Nigeria.
The smallholder farmers are farmers who produce relatively small volumes on relatively small plots of land.
They may produce an export commodity as a main livelihood activity or as one of many activities.
The meeting had in attendance Gov. Abdulraham Abdulrazaq of Kwara, who is also the Chairman of the steering committee and other stakeholders.
On the importance of the empowerment programme, Akobundu said the initiative was in line with the agency`s mandates and the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari to diversify the nation`s economy via agriculture to create jobs.
“If you check, the initial agenda of Mr President has been to diversify economy of the country via agriculture, create jobs and as well grow the economy of Nigeria.
“Which is the summary of the entire agenda is economic growth and development and now is moving to 9-point agenda which includes consolidation.
“And the summary of the 9-point agenda again is job creation, economic growth and development, consolidating on the gains, finding the gaps and building it back.
“Based on that we have designed, the three “Ps”, which is prosperity, partnership and productivity and based on these three Ps, we are driving this project, “ she said.
According to her, the preparation is to implement the outcome of NEPAD`s white paper aimed at cushioning the effects of the COVID-19, which has taken the country`s economy backward.
Akobundu also revealed that based on the outcome of the previous meetings of the stakeholders, other key issues emerged.
She said the issues were articulation of implementation strategies, need for identification of projects and constitution of national steering committee, among others.
Abdulrazaq in his contribution, applauded AUDA-NEPAD for its previous programmes ,which he said had impacted so many lives in Nigeria.
“The role of NEPAD is something that has been impacting for over the years, and with its peer review mechanism, I am glad to say that the role has stepped up, taken down to many communities in Nigeria.
“Its activity is important for national development – state, local governments,” he said.
Abdulrazaq explained that since 90 per cent of Nigeria`s population were farmers and rural dwellers, the target of the programme would focus on the grassroots via collaboration with state governors.
“The whole idea is to make sub-national government committed;how do you commit somebody, make him part of the programme, providing part of funding to show seriousness to the projects,” he said.
According him, engaging governors will create access to land, seedlings and other developmental asset to the farmers.
He, therefore, appealed to state and local governments to adopt NEPAD’s programmes, as it could contribute immensely to job creation, eradicating poverty, among others in the country. (NAN)