BATNF, Stakeholders Seek Improved Lives For Smallholder Farmers
Committed to making life better for smallholder farmers in Nigeria, particularly in the rural areas, the British American Tobacco Nigeria (BATN) Foundation recently held a one-day dialogue on smallholder farmers and sustainable agriculture themed: Agricultural Policies and The Nigerian Smallholder Farmers to address the issue.
Managing director, BATN, Mr. Chris McAllister, said the dialogue session was organised to review the plight of rural farmers and advance suggestions on how their lives can be improved through implementation of government policies in the agricultural sector.
He stated that the foundation, which was established in 2001 by BAT through a Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Federal Government, had recently been repositioned and was focusing its strategy on sustainable agriculture in rural communities.
“To fully achieve this, we focus our strategy on sustainable agriculture in rural communities. This is achieved by contributing to lifting the most affected sub-population out of extreme poverty in Nigeria. We aim to do this by supporting rural smallholder farmers and their communities to adopt more productive and sustainable ways of managing and earning livelihood from natural resources,” he said.
He added, “What we are witnessing today is our advocacy platform, where we work to facilitate access to policy making decisions of the smallholder farmers that constitute over 70 per cent of the labour force in the agricultural sector and produce the bulk of the food we consume as a nation. We believe that these disadvantaged groups in the rural areas should be given the opportunity to have their voices heard and participate in designing their future.”
According McAllister, for BATN and the foundation to achieve its aim of advocacy for smallholder farmers, the foundation inaugurated an Executive Working Committee to review the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) policy of the federal government and recommend ways of achieving conformity with it, ensuring that Nigerian smallholder farmers benefits maximally from its implementation.
A member of the EWC, who is also the director, Carbon Exchange Trade, Mr. Innocent Azih, while presenting the report of the committee, said that the EWC had been tasked with discovering ways of moving subsistence farmers into the commercial realm by providing market access for them.
While urging greater support from the government, he noted that farmers are not getting adequate support from the state and the local governments.
During the dialogue session, farmers from various states of the federation reviewed the ATA policies, the BATNF report and other related agricultural policies to identify the challenges of the key players along the value chain in wealth creation and increased productivity.
Topics of discussion included cassava enterprise value chain development, maize/rice enterprise value chain development, palm oil enterprise value chain, livestock/aquaculture, vegetable value chain and the Nigeria incentive-based risk management system for agricultural lending.