Michael Olugbode in Abuja and
The United States government has said that it supported 18,000 Nigerian-owned businesses through the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
In a statement, it said that the $15.7 million Agribusiness Investment activity assisted small businesses in seven states – Benue, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Kaduna, Kebbi, and Niger.
The statement further explained that the initiative mobilised more than N188 billion ($244 million) in agricultural investment, thereby providing access to finance, and bolstering their businesses.
The statement hinted that the small businesses are now able to expand business operations for increased food production, specifically for aquaculture, cowpea, maize, rice, and soybean.
The statement further stated that agriculture accounts for a substantial part of Nigeria’s economy and 35 per cent of Nigeria’s workforce is employed in the sector.
It added that Nigerian agriculture has economic potential if the high cost of doing business, limited access to finance and investment, and high regulatory barriers can be addressed.
The statement said that by supporting agriculture and food security programmes in collaboration with the federal and state ministries to increase agricultural productivity, USAID has partnered with Nigeria to help address these challenges.
The USAID/Nigeria Economic Growth and Environment Office Director Michelle Corzine stated: “We have seen remarkable improvements in the agricultural sector, and it is essential that public and private-sector actors continue to collaborate to ensure that we continue to improve the business environment for Nigeria’s farmers.”
The statement added more than 150 people attended the closeout event, including the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, USAID officials, and public and private-sector partners.