Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The capacity building initiatives by British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation (BATNF) since 2002 have impacted over 18,000 smallholder farmers in many parts of the country, the Foundation’s Executive Director Abimbola Okoya has disclosed.
She dropped the hint at the second edition of the National Agriculture and the Smallholder Farmers Dialogue in Abuja.
The session focused on sustainable agriculture and how smallholder farmers that constitute 70 percent of the farming population in Nigeria, can benefit from the successful implementation of the Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP).
Okoya said that in the 15 years of its existence, BAT Nigeria Foundation has trained large numbers of farmers on best agricultural practices, implemented over 150 projects nationwide and invested an excess of a billion naira on vocational skills acquisition, water supply and environment conservation.
“What we do often time is that we also work with government partners in terms of technical inputs that affect the life of the farmers and the local community as well. And we hope that our model will be used and emulated by other organisations, not only in Nigeria but across the world,” Okoya said.
Throwing light on the activities BATFN is Ageni Yusuf, a member of the board of directors. Yusuf said the foundation was keying into rice, maize and cassava cultivation while also supporting farmers through irrigation so that they will have water all year round to cultivate on their small farm.
He listed some of the key areas of intervention to farmers to include, assisting them with tractors to clear land, high-quality inputs and hybrid seeds to develop high yields per hectare.
“You can see many of them doing the subsistence manual mode of clearing land, we are helping many of them with tractors to clear the land in preparation for the cultivation. And this year, we have developed 16 of what you call modern enterprise farms in different parts of the country, which is why we brought these smallholder farmers, each having a minimum of one hectare of land, where we show them the practical way of modern farming. The budget for the inputs, fertilizers and clearing of the land for this year is close to N200million providing all these for smallholders”, Yusuf said.