US, Nigeria sign new partnership

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The U.S. and Nigeria, in Abuja on Thursday, signed a Declaration of Partnership to inaugurate a five-year Feed the Future Nigeria Country Plan aimed at ensuring food security.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Feed the Future is a U.S. government initiative coordinated by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The initiative seeks to sustainably reduce global poverty, malnutrition, and hunger.

According to Mr Colin Dreizin, Director, USAID 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.

Dreizin added that the Plan would seek to improve household nutrition especially for women and children in eleven states where the programme would be implemented.

The 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.

He listed other partners to include universities, research institutes, international organisations, local and international NGOs, civil society, the media, and donors.

Dreizin disclosed that since inception, the initiative had 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.

“Food security is a priority for the U.S. government and feed the future is our commitment to help the most vulnerable.

“According to the UN last year, 113 million 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.

“The launch of the country plan is an important milestone in the relationship between our two countries and this plan integrates Nigeria as part of the global food security strategy,” Dreizin said.

U.S. charge d’affaires, Kathleen FitzGibbon speaking, said that the declaration of the new partnership would help Nigeria embrace agriculture as a driver of its economy.

FlitzGibbon said that the Plan would also help improve resilience, nutritional status and health of Nigerians in rural communities in the eleven states.

“The U.S. government has invested 165 million dollars in agriculture in the past four years.

“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.

“The private sector is critical to this effort with roles and with responsibilities and incentives that are clear and transparent.

“They will become the main drivers of economic development to achieve long-lasting success in making agriculture a robust contributor to Nigeria’s prosperity and Nigeria’s health,” FlitzGibbon said.

She added that the approach adopted by USAID in the plan would help build on lessons learned from previous successful interventions such as the Feed the Future Nigeria Livelihoods activity, which ended in 2018 after five years of implementation.

Some governors and their representatives from the benefiting states present at the inauguration applauded the initiative and pledged their total commitment to the implementation of the Plan.

NAN reports that following the inauguration of the Plan, an exhibition was staged by 45 private sector vendors in agro-processing, agro-technology, nutrition services, and agricultural consulting.