USAID farm project: Farmers make N396b sales value in five years
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Market II project designed to help rural farmers in the country has recorded sales valued at N396 billion in five years, a report presented by the USAID has stated.
The report titled Maximizing Agricultural Revenue and Key Enterprises in Targeted Sites II (MARKET II) was made public, yesterday in Abuja at the 5-year project final event held in Abuja.
USAID Nigeria Mission Director, Mr. Stephen Haykin disclosed during the event that about 1.9 million rural households were supported to increase productivity and finance, with special attention on women and youths between ages of 18 to 29.
Haykin explained that the project which commenced in April 2012 and expected to end in October, 2017 was able to link farmers to processors and off-takers, thereby increasing efficiency and reducing post-harvest losses.
He described the market II project as a deliberate plan to help realize the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) of the past administration and Green Alternative Policy of the Federal Government, contributing to food security and increasing incomes of rural households.
According to him, the initiative attracted N4.9 billion private sector investment, N13.9 billion public sector investment and N52.9 billion worth of loans with 3,306,399 metric tons in volume of agricultural commodities sold by the benefiting farmers.
Earlier, Managing Director, Market II Project, Harvey Schartup said the intervention was aimed to support rural farmers in 25 states working on seven agricultural commodities and its value-chains.
The states include Sokoto, Jigawa, Kano, Kaduna, kebbi, Taraba, Niger, Nasarawa, Benue, Ebonyi, oyo, Imo, Rivers among others while the commodities are Maize, Cocoa, Cassava, Bee Keeping, Sorghum and the rest.
He said with the intervention and adoption of improved seeds, participating farmers were able to engage in both wet season and dry season farming, especially in the area of rice.
Schartup added that the farmers increased production to over 1.7 million metric tons of rice for the wet season and 429, 800 metric tons of rice produced for the dry season.
He described the outputs as indications that dry season and wet season farming could help reposition the nation’s economy, adding that farmers do not have to be literate to succeed in the venture.
He emphasized on the dry season farming, stressing that it was capable of achieving food security, mainly if supported with good policies and best agronomy.
“We are optimistic about the prospects of agriculture. The future of Nigeria agribusiness is great. We have shown that small holders farming can be productive and profitable.
“Farmers are smart, but they are also careful; they have to be able to provide for their families. If they see an opportunity, if they see their neighbours doing better, if they see that the methods and technologies are within their reach, they will seize it but they will; adapt and adopt,” Schartup added.
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