The National Programme Monitoring Unit (NPMU) Manager of the UNDP-Global Environment Facility Integrated Approach Programme (UNDP-GEF-IAP) on Food Security Project in Nigeria, Mrs. Rhoda Dia, on Thursday said that the ongoing five-year project being implemented across seven Northern states would boost the nation’s rice and groundnut production capacity and quality of the commodities.
Dia was quoted by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) during an interview in Gombe as saying that the UNDP’s intervention in the area of good agricultural practices and training for key stakeholders in the agricultural value chains would improve rural farmers’ knowledge on climate-smart agricultural practices on rice and groundnut production, storage, packaging and marketing.
Noting that Nigeria has great potential in rice and groundnut production if properly harnessed, the NPMU leader projected that the implementation of the ongoing project would impact positively on the economy and increase the incomes of smallholder farmers, especially those who have embraced the use of improved seedlings.
She said that if farmers properly harness the opportunities of the UNDP and the Federal Government’s intervention programmes, food security would be guaranteed.
She explained further: “As you might be aware, the issues of having effective agribusiness platforms in the development of agriculture and food security with a view to enhancing sustainable development have become regional and national concerns.
“The UNDP is doing a lot in the area of boosting rice production. Recently, we brought in major stakeholders involved in the rice value chains to a food summit in Gombe, on how to boost productivity.
“During the summit, Agricultural Development Programme (ADPs) of Adamawa, Benue, Nasarawa, Kano, Katsina, Jigawa and Gombe signed a Memorandum of Understanding with major rice mills to facilitate the growth of the produce and groundnuts by farmers.
“The rice mill companies will provide inputs, training, and general support, off-take and process the farm produce, while the National Agricultural Seed Council certifies through registered dealers.
“We established linkages through the creation of an innovation platform, which provides the sustainable structures for the advancement of what the project refers to as a win-win inter-state food commodity value chain”, Mrs Dia added.
The project manager canvassed the need to review the immediate business environment across the rice value chains to obtain information from millers and off-takers about the required quality and specifications of rice to be produced by the farmers.
According to her, the UNDP has been empowering women and communities with treadle pumps to make farming easier while curbing environmental degradation arising from poor agricultural practices.
It would be recalled that a Summit organised by the NMPU and the Women Farmers Advancement Network (WOFAN) under the UNDP-GEF-IAP project being implemented by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development was held penultimate Thursday in Gombe.
The objectives of the summit are, amongst others, aimed at kick-starting the process of establishing cooperation among stakeholders along rice and groundnut value chains and work with various stakeholders to coordinate their activities for improved quality of food items in the country.