FAO Canvasses for Private Sector Involvement in Agriculture

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Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri

The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has said the surest route for Nigeria to reach her full potential in agriculture is for the private sector to get more involved.

Speaking to journalists in Maiduguri at the weekend during the assessment of FAO interventions in Borno State, the new Country Representative of the UN agency, Fred Kafeero, said Nigeria has great potentials in agriculture but need the involvement of all stakeholders to achieve this.

Kafeero said: “Nigeria is a very
important agricultural country. When you talk about agricultural potentials, you are talking about the potentials that there is in several sub-sectors of agriculture.

“This include fisheries, as the country both has fresh water and the sea, all those are fishery resources that could be fully harnessed and exploited.

“Livestock sector, Nigeria has the largest herd of livestock in the Northeast sub-region.

“She has vast fertile arable land, with which various crops could be produced and processed to add more values.

“When you talk of forestry resources, which is part of agriculture, Nigeria has all that. The point is how we can mobilise each and every stakeholder to support the government.”

He noted that government alone cannot do all the harness and development of the agricultural, forestry and livestock resources.

“The role of private sector, has to be incorporated in the development of agricultural and livestock resources,“ Kafeero said.

He noted that government can set the enabling environment for all of them to operate, adding that the drivers of agriculture are the Organised Private
Sector (OPS), as it can contribute to research, development, new innovations and technologies.

According to him, the FAO has always provided technical expertise in the agricultural and livestock sectors of the economy.

He however lamented that 600,000 people in the North-east have been added to the category of those in hunger with the prevailing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

It has been reported that over a decade long Boko Haram insurgency has claimed 32,000 lives with property worth $9.2 billion (about N3.42 trillion) destroyed in Borno,Adamawa and Yobe States.

He said: “This is a big challenge for all of us. This country has had Boko Haram insurgency for 11 years. On top of that we got this challenge of COVID-19 pandemic.”

Kafeero disclosed that the UN has assessed the impact of the pandemic on agricultural livelihoods in terms of how it is impacting on food security.

He noted that FAO has been working and mobilizing along with INGOs, development partners and the government to ensure that the hungry people could access food with nutrition and incomes, adding that: “These are part of our package of working in the North-east.”

The UN Country Representative said despite the crisis, FAO has been making inroads into hard-to-reach areas, stressing that: “It is not like we only
target Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) or refugees alone, but the host communities.“