USAID: ‘Feed the Future Nigeria’ Programme will Reach 5,000 SMEs

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Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has said that the ‘Feed the Future Nigeria’ programme would reach at least 5,000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) thereby expanding opportunities for agribusiness borrowers and lenders.

The United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Stuart Symington, disclosed this on Tuesday in Abuja at the official launch of Feed the Future Nigeria Activity Agribusiness Investment with the theme ‘Agribusiness Finance and Investment Summit: Challenges, Opportunities and Solutions.’

He said that the Feed the Future activity would also facilitate the growth of existing private sector agribusinesses and work with other selected agribusinesses including suppliers, financiers, investors, service providers and producer organisations in the rice, maize, soybean, aquaculture, and cowpea value chains.

Symington stated: “The programme will reach at least 5,000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) thereby expanding opportunities for agribusiness borrowers and lenders.

“The five-year, $15.7 million Agribusiness Investment programme focuses on five key pillars: enlisting public and private-sector partners; connecting micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to agribusiness services; supporting the development of new financial products; linking MSMEs and entrepreneurs with larger firms; and reforming policies that constrain the ease of doing business.

“Through this initiative, the U. S. government aims to work with the people of Nigeria to improve the ease of doing business in the agricultural sector, mitigate the risks to lending institutions and promote investment opportunities for agribusinesses to expand and scale up their operations.

“The Agribusiness Investment activity will be implemented by cultivating new frontiers in agriculture in seven states: Kaduna, Niger, Kebbi, Benue, Delta, Ebonyi and Cross River. The programme will work with a range of agribusiness stakeholders and counterparts, including government of Nigeria ministries and agencies, financial institutions, business development service providers, business associations, as well as other NGOs, donor-funded projects, universities and research institutes.”

On his part, the Kebbi State Governor, Mr. Atiku Bagudu, said that the focal states have seen significant improvement in the areas of yields in many commodities, particularly in rice where yields have increased from one ton per hectare to five and eight tonnes per hectare.

He however assured stakeholders of his administration’s readiness to thinker with policies to ensure agribusinesses are protected in Kebbi State.

Also, the Chief of Party Feed the Future Nigeria Agribusiness Investment activity, Dr. Adam Saffer, said that the five-year USAID Feed the Future Nigeria Agribusiness Investment activity was aimed at strengthening the business enabling environment to promote private sector investment in the agriculture sector.

He stressed that the programme focuses on three interrelated components of improving the ease of doing business in the agricultural sector, broadening access to finance by mitigating the credit risks of agribusiness and promoting investment opportunities for agribusinesses to expand and scale up operations.