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Govt begins electrification of farms for food security

By Kingsley Jeremiah, Abuja
13 May 2022   |   3:54 am
To address food insecurity and improve contributions to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the Federal Government, yesterday, said millions of farmers across Nigeria will be provided with electricity under a new Energising Agriculture Programme (EAP).

To address food insecurity and improve contributions to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the Federal Government, yesterday, said millions of farmers across Nigeria will be provided with electricity under a new Energising Agriculture Programme (EAP).

Expected to be implemented through the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) and backed by support from Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP), which is currently mobilising over $100 billion fund for clean energy as well as the Rocky Mountain Institute, the programme is aiming at providing mini grid electricity for farming communities in the country.

While over 70 per cent of Nigerians live in rural areas and are mainly farmers, the Food and Agricultural Organisation of United Nations stated that from January and March 2021, agriculture contributed 22.35 per cent of Nigeria’s GDP, however, the country is still faced with food insecurity.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) had said between 2020 and 2021, the value of imported agricultural products in Nigeria went up by 140.47 per cent as the country spent N630.2 billion importing agricultural products.

While most at the programme noted that lack of electricity for farmers contributes to the challenges in the sector, especially in rural areas, which are either not connected through grid electricity or underserved.

Managing Director of REA, Ahmed Salihijo, noted that the programme provides a nexus to the social and economic impact required across the country’s rural communities.

“We recognise the roles provision of electricity can play in ensuring that we have a good and productive agricultural value chain,” he noted, adding that the partnership, which is with stakeholders already in the sector, would help the government achieve speedy results.

“We ventured into the Energy-Agriculture space to create a nexus that allows us to utilise the key activity in rural communities to improve the productive use of electricity, including agricultural activities.

“The key priority for the REA is to ensure that the solutions we deploy in rural communities have both social and economic impacts on the lives of the people in those communities. Therefore, ensuring that electricity is used productively is a major priority for the REA,” Salihijo said.

Special Adviser to the President on Agriculture, Dr Andrew Kwasari, noted that while the government has already created data around agriculture, the development would enable the administration to achieve the target of reducing poverty and creating necessary employment.

Accordingly, the EAP would leapfrog existing plans by the Federal Government to achieve good security.

Kwasari disclosed that the challenge of infrastructure remained critical for farmers, adding that electricity; road access as well as irrigation are being addressed.

Nigerian Programme Director, RMI, Suleiman Babamanu said the efforts towards addressing energy access, climate change and global warming are not meeting up with the pace at which the climate is changing.

According to him, there must be a plan to predict the future and accelerate low carbon investment and energy transition.

“What we believe in is to be able to create a clean, prosperous, low carbon energy future for our planet,” he said.

Babamanu said the EAP would accelerate the deployment of village agriculture identification intervention by testing business models, and proven appliances, adding that attempts are being made to scale proven solutions to electrify the communities while raising finance, and identifying both opportunities.