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Heifer to empower 1m farmers by 2030

Heifer Nigeria, a global non-profit organisation, is ready to help lift one million smallholder farmers out of poverty by 2030.

Heifer Nigeria, a global non-profit organisation, is ready to help lift one million smallholder farmers out of poverty by 2030.

Speaking during the National Economic Summit (NES #27) in Abuja at the side-event, with the theme, “Youth and technology: The future of Nigeria’s agriculture,” its Country Director, Rufus Idiris, said though Nigeria is blessed with a huge population of youths, it is not tapping much into their creativity.

Heifer, he said, had invested heavily in youths to get them more involved and engaged in agricultural sector transformation through technology.

He said the organisation was seeking to empower Nigerian farmers to use technology to reimagine farming and food production across the country.

Also, the Heifer Regional Director, Adesuwa Ifedi, said for over four decades, Heifer International had been a trusted partner for smallholder farmers across Africa.

“Now, we’re eager to support them by combining the power of African youths with the many possibilities of emerging technologies, a transformative force in Nigeria,’’ she said.

She reaffirmed that part of the global organisation’s target was to help 10 million households close the living income gap by 2030, adding that Heifer International had extended its footprints to Nigeria, and marked “our soft launch of Heifer Nigeria.”

She stated: “If we secure Nigeria’s future, then we have secured Africa’s future.”

According to her, to secure our future, there is a fierce urgency to address issues of food insecurity and massive food importation associated with the underperformance of the agricultural sector and food system, high unemployment among youths, and dwindling economy.

“Our first Signature Programme 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 demands while closing the living income gap for families in selected value chains, starting with Tomato, Rice and Poultry and value chain.”

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

“Youth creativity and technology in agriculture would drive economic growth in Nigeria. Heifer is a global development organization 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”, Ifedi said.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammed Abubakar, who also spoke during the side-event through his Director, Federal Department of Agric Extension, Frank Satumari Kudla, assured Heifer Nigeria of a conducive operating environment to carry out its plans, which, ultimately, will result in revamping the face of agriculture, generate employments and poverty reduction with the deployment of the latest technology in Nigeria.

He said Nigeria has large expanses of fertile farmlands laying fallow across the nation. Nigeria has one of the biggest expenses of land in Africa of which 70 per cent is available for farming.

According to him, Nigeria Government is seriously turning attention to promoting farming in Nigeria to help boost food productions in the country and minimize food importation. The government is willing to assist any would-be farming entrepreneur/investors with the necessary supports and logistics.

“Nigerians boasts of highest purchasing power in Africa. The food used for parties and merriments in Nigeria can feed four other African countries. By the time Nigeria attain its full capacity utilization in agriculture, farming will become a great foreign currency earning more than oil. The implication is that Nigeria farmers will be able to earn in Naira and Dollars as well as other foreign currencies.

The participation of youth in agriculture is imperative for the fact that the hope and aspiration of a nation rest on them. The youth are the largest energetic, active and productive segment of the human resource of any community. Therefore, it is necessary to recognize their role in developmental activities,” the minister said.