NIGERIA and the US have signed a Declaration of Partnership agreement as part of a five-year Feed the Future Nigeria Country Plan aimed at boosting agricultural production and ensuring food security.
A US government initiative coordinated by the United States Agency for International Development (Usaid), the plan seeks to sustainably reduce global poverty, malnutrition and hunger. According to Colin Dreizin, the Usaid director of economic growth and environment, the plan serves as a blueprint for inclusive and sustainable agriculture-led economic growth and strengthening resilience among people and the system.
Mr Dreizin added that the plan would seek to improve household nutrition especially for women and children in 11 states where the programme would be implemented. These states include Adamawa, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Gombe, Kaduna, Kebbi, Niger, and Yobe.
He explained that Feed the Future Country Plan will address food security challenges in Nigeria and stimulate the country’s economy through broad-based partnership with stakeholders from government and private sector. Mr Dreizin listed other partners to include universities, research institutes, international organisations, local and international non-governmental organisations, civil society, the media and donors.
According to Mr Dreizin, since inception, the initiative has strengthened efforts at ensuring food security for millions by working to address the root causes of poverty and hunger. He, however, said that in spite of the progress recorded, significant work still needed to be done.
Mr Dreizin added: “Food security is a priority for the US government and feed the future is our commitment to help the most vulnerable. According to the UN last year, 113m people across 53 countries faced food security crisis level of acute food insecurity or worse.
“Food security is linked with crisis and natural disaster and the message of feed the future focuses on resilience. The strategy describes it as strengthening the resilience of communities to shocks that can lead to famine and political unrest.
“Usaid considers this a critical priority and supporting every country’s journey to self reliance. We want to draw from the breadth and depth of experience, including the NGOs, donors, the UN and private sector to define what is needed to better achieve outcomes for the communities we serve.”
He stressed that the launch of the country plan is an important milestone in the relationship between the two countries and it integrates Nigeria into the global food security strategy. US charge d’affairs, Kathleen FitzGibbon, added that the plan would also help improve resilience, nutritional status and the health of Nigerians in rural communities in the 11 states.
Ms FitzGibbon said: “The US government has invested $165m in agriculture in the past four years and this new country plan anticipates continuing our investments in Nigeria over the next five years. The country plan combines new and existing projects and will connect farmers with suppliers, improve agriculture extension services and inputs, and stimulate market growth.