By Ugo Aliogo
The British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation (BATNF) has launchedÂ itsÂ 2018–2022 strategic plan aimed at promotingÂ wealth creation in the agriculture sector.
Speaking atÂ anÂ event in LagosÂ recently,Â the Chairman, Board of Directors, BATNF, Chief Kola Jamodu, said the foundation signed aÂ memorandum ofÂ understanding (MOU) withÂ thegovernment to promote socio-economic development in the country,
He noted that when the MOU was signed the public didnâ€™t understand how impactful of the initiative would be until the foundation was established in 2002.
â€œSixteen yearsÂ later, we are witnesses to the evolution of a promise kept,â€Â he added.
The Chairman explained that the more than 70 perÂ cent of the total farming populationÂ wereÂ small–holder farmers in rural communities that cultivates less than four hectares,Â Â but produce up to 90 percent of the total national output.
â€œYet many of these farmers and others in their community account for over three quarter of the poor in Nigeria, who live below a dollar a day.
â€œIn many ways, small–holder farmersÂ cannot be ignored in the agricultural value chain if growth and development are expected in the sector, but they are limited due to their subsistent way of farming in their backyard with hoes or cutlass and the unfavourable environment that leaves them vulnerable to big players in the field,â€ he noted.
Jamodu stated that the foundation in its commitment to address poverty empowers rural small holder farmers to move from subsistence to commercial agriculture, noting that their support involves â€œproviding them with practical means to mitigate these, including grants and technical expertise so they can become prosperous.â€
In his remarks, the Managing Director, BAT Nigeria, Chris McAlister, said as a responsible organisation, BAT Nigeria would continue to provide funding and other necessary assistance to ensure that they are able to constant support agricultural enterprises and improve livelihood of those living in the rural areas, â€œbecause the rural population accounts for nearly 73.2 percent of less privileged households in Nigeria.â€