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AfDB, NIRSAL, IITA begin scheme to increase food production

The African Development Bank (AfDB), Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) on Thursday, June 28, 2018 commenced a technology improvement system to increase agricultural yields in the country.

Aliyu Abdulhameed NIRSAL
Aliyu Abdulhameed, Managing Director of NIRSAL

Mr Aliyu Abdulhameed, the Managing Director of NIRSAL, said this at a meeting of agriculture stakeholders aimed at creating a plan for agricultural transformation in Africa, through the adoption of technologies in Abuja.

Abdulhameed said that partnership which is under the AfDB’s Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) would help bridge the technology gap in agricultural production.

The managing director said that technology adoption would enable smallholder farmers to meet the requirement of the 21st century rapid population growth and reduce high food importation rate in Africa.

He said that the technology system would help to bring all research institutions across the world together, to apply research findings and improve the livelihood of smallholder farmers.

The managing director explained that the meeting was an outcome of the recently concluded 4th Cassava Conference and Meeting of TAAT Compact Leaders in the Republic of Benin.

“We have land resources, water, market opportunities in Nigeria but the technology required to transform our yields from substitency to what can be commercially viable to substitute for imports is what is needed.

“We found in the AfDB-TAAT system a one-stop shop that will give us the capacity and technology that can be applied to support primary production of almost all the crops in Nigeria and lift up technology gap overnight.

“The partnership is to support the Federal Government’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme  driven by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN),’’ he said.

Dr Martin Fregene, the Director, Agriculture and Agro-Industry Department of the AfDB, listed the crops to be improved to include rice, cassava, maize, sorghum and millet, wheat, orange fleshed sweet potato, high iron bean, livestock, poultry, small ruminants and aquaculture.

According to him, we look forward to reducing food prices for consumers and increasing income for farmers in the rural areas with TAAT.

“At the heart of rural poverty, high cost of food in Nigeria and Africa is low productivity.

“FeedAfrica, the Bank’s initiative has its biggest pillar as improving productivity and in between the seed companies, fertiliser companies, the extension systems that help to deliver the technology to farmers.

“We are happy to be working with NIRSAL on the Feed Africa and TAAT Programme and we look forward to reducing prices for consumers and increasing incomes for smallholder farmers in rural areas of Nigeria,’’ he said.

The Deputy Director-General of IITA, Dr Kenton Dashiell, said the institute would coordinate all the skills and specialties that would be brought by research institutes for the improvement of various crops and animal value chains to transform agriculture in Nigeria.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) the AfDB has pledged to invest 120 million dollars over the next three years to boost productivity and transform nine commodities.

TAAT is a multi-donor financing platform, established to help take proven agricultural technologies to scale across Africa. It is said to be a key priority of the AfDB for agricultural transformation agenda also known as the Feed Africa Strategy.

It is essentially a knowledge- and innovation-based response to the recognised need for scaling up proven technologies across Africa aiming to boost productivity, and to make Africa self-sufficient in key commodities.

By Ginika Okoye

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