By AGRA Content Hub

The potential for agricultural development and transformation in Nigeria is immense with targeted investments in specific value chains. Under supportive conditions, a clear policy framework catalyzes private sector investments, supports smallholder farmers, and builds a coalition with civil society and development partners.

Although Nigeria is the world’s largest cassava producer, the West African nation is also Africa’s largest rice importer.  This inability to export at the levels required for market success coupled with the inability to meet domestic food requirements calls for the identification of measures to capture international markets for cassava on the one hand, and for import substitution for rice on the other hand.

Drawing heavily from AGRA’s past investments in Nigeria valued at US $15 million, the Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa (PIATA) comprising AGRA, USAID, Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has invested US $280 million over a five-year period to stimulate agricultural development in at least 11 priority African countries.  They are: Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

To increase food security and income levels for 30 million smallholder African farm households by 2020, PIATA advocates for increased linkages between smallholder farmers and agribusinesses to create economic opportunities. Specifically, the program seeks to reduce food insecurity in at least 20 countries by 50 percent, double the incomes of 20 million smallholder farmers and spark a green revolution in at least 15 countries.

A recent training session sponsored by PIATA for women rice processors in Kaduna State is in line with the Government of Nigeria’s Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP 2016-2020) also known as the Green Alternative which aims to achieve national food security goals, import substitution, job creation, and economic diversification. This is a five-year intervention with a strong emphasis on gender inclusion and equity targeting 1.9 million smallholder farmers in Kaduna and Niger states respectively.

Drawn from three women groups in Maikarfi, Giwa and Kauru Local Government Areas (LGAs), 15 women representing Ungwan Makaranta Meyere Women Multi-Purpose Credit Society (MPCS) Ltd., Kaya Sa’a Women MPCS Ltd., Ungwan Daki Women Rice Farmers Credit Society Ltd.  were introduced to modern rice processing technologies. They were particularly excited to learn that their products could compete favourably with imported rice if they replaced the more cumbersome and laborious traditional processing methods with modern processing techniques including using tarpaulins to dry the grain, de-stoners, good packaging and labelling.

The PIATA partners have been involved in-country, supporting the governments of Kaduna and Niger States to translate the Green Alternative into action through improved policy formulation and implementation, enhanced coordination with agribusinesses as well as increased budget allocations to the sector.

The partnership has also designed system and farmer-level development for public-private partnerships (PPPs) to tackle structural constraints hindering the uptake of new technologies and the creation effective agricultural systems.

By strengthening the capacity of farmers in Kaduna and Niger states to tap into existing and new market opportunities, AGRA’s focus is on increasing their yield to produce surpluses and meet the quality requirements of selected market segments.  The intervention also involves de-risking smallholder farmers and other value chain actors to enhance their access to credit from financial institutions.