Nigeria quest for valued added export of its primary products received a boost as the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food for Progress programme entered into a cooperative agreement with the Lutheran World Relief to strengthen the cocoa value chain in Nigeria. The U.S. consulate said in a statement that the project was worth approximately $22 million and would be implemented over the next five years. According to the consulate, the Lutheran World Relief, an international non-governmental organisation will carry out project activities in Abia, Cross River, Ekiti, Akwa Ibom, Ondo and Osun States, benefitting approximately 68,000 farmers.
“This will target farmers in low productivity but high promising areas, as well as farmers in high density, high productivity communities. The primary objective of the Food for Progress programme is to increase cocoa productivity by leveraging climate-smart agricultural measures. It will support improved access to inputs, technical resources and capacity, post-harvest processing and export markets,” the consulate said. Gerald Smith, the Counsellor for Agricultural Affairs, U.S. Mission, said the project would employ an approach that would enable farmers to produce more cocoa and preserve the land’s fertility and biodiversity. He added that it would also realise an important triple bottom line of people, profit, and planet.
“Food for Progress programme is the cornerstone of United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service international capacity. It builds efforts with the principal objectives of improving agricultural productivity and expanding trade of agricultural products,” Smith said. The statement noted that over the years, Food for Progress programmes had trained farmers in animal and plant health, improved farming methods, developed road and utility systems, and established producer cooperatives. It said that the programmes had also provided microcredit, and developed agricultural value chains.