USAID engages stakeholders to address impacts of covid-19 on livelihoods, households in Kebbi
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Feed the Future, Nigeria Agricultural Policy Activity, (FtF-NAPA) has engaged agricultural stakeholders in Kebbi on household livelihoods and covid-19 shocks in oder to foster robust and inclusive agricultural growth in the state.
The Kebbi state Commissioner of Agriculture and Mineral Resources, Alhaji Maigari Abdullahi Dakingari, said at the one-day seminar in Birnin Kebbi on Wednesday that it was part of the strategies deployed by the USAID towards achieving food security.
He added that it was to suggest ways on how to end hunger, improve nutrition and how to promote sustainable agriculture among the people.
“The dialogue would also complement the efforts of the Kebbi State government in economic and human development, and enhance agricultural development in the state in view of the covid-19 pandemic shocks that have touched almost all aspects of our lives, including the governance,” he said.
Dakingari added that the state government had responded positively to the shocks brought by the pandemic, adding that the state government rendered assistance to small holder farmers as well as large scale farmers to cushion the effects during the peak of the pandemic.
“We offered assistance to over 4,000 vulnerable people, loans to agribusiness entrepreneurs,and a total of 112,500 bags of assorted fertiliser were distributed to each of the 225 wards in the state as each ward was allocated 500 bags of the product.He added that the state government had already partnered development partners like OXFAM on crops value chain provision of 1,300,000 seedlings of different trees.
“This is in addition to crop varieties to mitigate the impact of climate change,thereby combating desertification and promoting afforestation in the state.
“The government is also into partnership with some companies to strengthen extension services to boost agriculture and develop share butter value chain.
“We are , however, going to develop three value chains in rice,groundnut and diary across the state,” he said.
Dakingari revealed that the ministry had distributed tractors procured by the state government and distributed to the five agriculture zonal offices on tractor hiring scheme.
“The government also constructed 700 kilometres of rural roads in the 21 local government areas as parts of efforts to ease hardship faced by farmers in transporting their farm produce to markets in the state,” he said.
He, however, said that the meeting would help the state explore ideas to improve their agriculture sector and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the people.
”So, I am sure this meeting will help boost food security in the state, and thereby helping our people who are predominantly farmers on ways to tackle the challenges posed by covid-19, ’’ the commissioner said.
Earlier, Mr Joel Aiki, the Permanent Secretary state Ministry of Agriculture and Mineral Resources, urged USAID to evolve mechanism in fighting insecurity as exemplified in the global fight against covid-19 pandemic.
“Just as covid-19 pandemic, insecurity is also pandemic because the insecurity of a country may be an insecurity to another, no one is free if one country is not free.
“That global team up in the fight against covid-19 pandemic should also be exhibited in the fight against insecurity in African countries that have security challenges,” he said.
While mentoring the dialogue of the seminar, Mr Hyacinth Edeh, the Country Programme Manager of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), said that the IFPRI together with Michigan State University (MSU) was jointly implementing the USAID-Nigeria funded, feed the future Nigeria Agricultural Policy Activity (FtF-NAPA).
He added that it was a follow on to the feed the future Nigeria agricultural policy Project (FtF-NAPP).
“The activity is supporting Nigeria’s journey to self-reliance in agriculture and food security through strengthening the commitment and ability of stakeholders across the agriculture sector to formulate, implement, and monitor policies that foster robust and inclusive growth.
“This would be achieved by integrating research, training, mentoring, and stakeholder engagement to ensure that analytical evidence is available, understood, and appropriately incorporated into the policy process in Nigeria for sustained policy influence.
“This will improve policy processes driven by empirical evidence and active stakeholder dialogue,” he said.
Edeh explained that the purpose of the seminar was to present recent findings from one of the Activity’s research output on COVID-19 impacts in the state.
The research findings on COVID- 19, livelihood and food security and policy responses to covid-19 and effects of the pandemic on livelihoods and household food security in the state were presented by Dr Bedru Balana from IFPRI and Dr Oluwaseu Ojeleye from Ahmadu Bello University (ABU),Zaria, respectively.