President Obama’s Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative is paying off in Nigeria as the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Syngenta Nigeria yesterday signed a three-year memorandum of understanding (MOU). The MOU will train more than 500,000 farmers and agro-dealers across multiple states and ensure that Nigerian farmers have access to the best agricultural technologies to boost their productivity—directly contributing to the government of Nigeria’s “Agriculture Transformation Agenda.”
Speaking before signing the MOU in Abuja on August 26, U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Maria Brewer, said the U.S. government is not only committed to teaching farmers how to plant, but also “helping them learn how to run successful businesses.”
Syngenta and USAID will also cooperate in identifying employment opportunities in the agricultural sector especially for participants of President Obama’s Mandela Washington Fellowship, formerly known as the Young African Leaders Initiative. These actions and partnerships will increase the quantity and quality of agricultural inputs available to smallholders, with agro-dealers playing an important role in providing both quality products and services to their customers.
Dr. Shachi Sharma, the Sygenta Country Director, signed on behalf of Syngenta Agro AG, while the Deputy Chief of Mission Brewer signed for the U.S. government in the presence of the Federal Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina.
The signing ceremony attracted major stakeholders in the agro-business sector including the acting USAID Mission Director, Ms. Julie Koenen, the Acting Director of the Office of Economic Growth and Environment, Ms. Leslie Flagg, and the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture Director General, Dr. Nteranya Sanginga.
A major obstacle to Nigeria’s agricultural inputs stems from the sub-standard quality of products that are distributed through inadequate and inefficient channels. The government of Nigeria and other development partners all agree that modern agricultural practices will improve the quality of agricultural inputs and can play a transformative role in reestablishing Nigeria’s position as the breadbasket of Africa.
In 2012, Syngenta made a commitment to expand its business in Africa by investing more than $500 million within a period of 10 years. As a result of this commitment, Syngenta has initiated multiple activities in Nigeria and in 2014 the company signed a letter of intent under the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition with the government of Nigeria. Within the last 18 months, Syngenta has also been working with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, various Nigerian institutions, smallholder farmers, and key players across the agribusiness value chain to promote the adoption of new technologies, train and develop skills, and enable access to markets. So far this year, Syngenta has trained over 12,000 smallholder farmers across multiple states in Nigeria and has successfully piloted new seeds and crop protection solutions that can give significantly higher yield and quality improvements.