Vice President Kashim Shettima initiated discussions during a meeting with the US Special Envoy for Global Food Security, Cary Fowler, as part of his diplomatic engagements in the United States of America recently.
“We seek the support of the United States Government, be it technical or otherwise, towards addressing challenges in our agricultural sector,” Shettima said in a statement.
He emphasised, “Mechanisation is essential – good quality seeds, fertilisation, improved agricultural practices, smart agriculture – these are the solutions we seek because our entire focus is on increasing yield and improving productivity. It goes beyond the mere acreage used for production.
“I am here, surrounded by other stakeholders armed with figures, facts, and knowledge, making this partnership easy and smooth sailing,” the Vice President stated.
He assured the US Special Envoy for Global Food Security of the Tinubu administration's readiness to collaborate with relevant stakeholders, not only to enhance agricultural productivity in Nigeria but across Africa.
He affirmed that Nigeria would sustain existing relationships with partners in the agricultural sector and nurture the alliance for continuous growth and development.
“We will nurture it because more than ever before. We are facing food security challenges. We have to think outside the box; we have to look for ingenious solutions that can help us overcome the challenges. I believe with your support (the political will is there now more than ever before), together, we can save humanity and serve the human race,” he noted.
In response, Fowler revealed that the US Government, in collaboration with other key stakeholders, has initiated a groundbreaking agricultural programme focused on Africa.
He remarked, “Here in the US, we've launched what we term the ‘Vision for Adapted Crops and Soil,' a partnership involving the US, the AU, and the FAO. In essence, our objective is to assist African nations, from the national level down to individual farmers, with ineffective soil management, ensuring both sustainability and productivity in soil cultivation.
“Additionally, we are deeply concerned about the impact of climate change on Africa's crops. Therefore, our joint programme with the AU and FAO is exclusively tailored to address the challenges faced by African agriculture.”
He disclosed that the programme would look at indigenous African crops that had long suffered from massive underinvestment.
“We have established a multi-donor trust fund at the IFAD to provide long-term funding for the program and the USAID is also involved. The US Government has allocated $100m to the programme,” he added.
He, however, emphasised that stakeholders needed to work collaboratively with countries like Nigeria.
“We need your partnership; we need your political support to push this. We have to make these efforts more permanent; we have to institutionalise the efforts and have a strong African voice on this. We want this programme to be African-led,” he further noted.