FAO advocates more private sector involvement in agriculture

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By Bode Olushegun

The Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (UN-FAO) has called on the private sector to get more involved in agriculture in Nigeria.

Speaking to journalists in Maiduguri on Friday during the assessment of UN-FAO interventions in Borno State, the new Country Representative of the UN agency, Fred Kafeero, said Nigeria would fully harness her vast potential in agriculture if all stakeholders were involved.

Kafeero said: “Nigeria is a very important agricultural country. When you talk about agricultural potentials, you are talking about the potentials that there is in
several sub-sectors of agriculture.

“This include fisheries, as the country both has fresh water and the sea, all those are fishery resources that could be fully
harnessed and exploited.

“Livestock sector, Nigeria has the largest herd of livestock in the Northeast sub-region.

“She has vast fertile arable land, with which various crops could be produced and processed to add more values.

“When you talk of forestry resources, which is part of agriculture, Nigeria has all that. The point is how we can mobilise each and every stakeholder to support the government.”

He noted that government alone cannot do all the harnessing and development of the agriculture forestry and livestock resources.

“The role of private sector, has to be incorporated in the development of agricultural and livestock resources,” he stated.

He noted that government can set the enabling environment for all of them to operate, stressing that the drivers of agriculture was the Organised Private
Sector (OPS), as it could contribute to research, development, new innovations and technologies.

He said that the FAO had always provided technical expertise in the agriculture
and livestock sectors of the economy

He however lamented that 600,000 people in the Northeast had been added to the category of those in hunger with the prevailing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

It has been reported that the over a decade long Boko Haram insurgency, has claimed 32,000 lives with property worth $9.2 billion (about N3.42 trillion) destroyed in Borno,Adamawa and Yobe states.

He said: “This is a big challenge for all of us. This country, has had Boko
Haram insurgency for 11 years. On top of that we got this challenge of COVID-19 pandemic.”

He disclosed that the UN had assessed the impact of the pandemic on agriculture, livelihoods in terms of how it was impacting on food security.

He noted that FAO had been working and mobilizing along with INGOs, development partners and government to see that the hungry people could access food with nutrition and incomes, stressing that: “These are part of our package of working in the Northeast.”

He said despite the crisis FAO had been making inroads into hard-to-reach areas, stressing that: “It is not like we only
target Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) or refugees alone, but the host communities.“

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