Remarks of U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Mrs. Maria Brewer – Support to Vulnerable Households for Accelerated Revenue Earning (SHARE) Project Lau

Protocols

  • The Honorable Governor, Dr. Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko
  • The Honorable Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr. Adewunmi Adesina
  • The Sultan of Sokoto, Mahammadu Sa’adu Abubakar

All protocols duly observed.

Good morning.  I am very happy to be here today to celebrate the official launch of SHARE, a project offering Support to Vulnerable Households for Accelerated Revenue Earning.  It is encouraging to have such a diverse group present — I see government representatives, members of civil society, faith groups, other USAID partners, as well as members of the private sector.  This gathering truly represents the collaborative spirit of this project, a community working together to reduce poverty for thousands of Nigerian families.

The United States government recognizes that agriculture is a very important part of Nigeria’s history and culture. It is also a critical dimension of Nigeria’s economy. Nigerian farmers must be able to grow and raise enough food to feed their families and earn enough money to buy other essential goods and services like health care, fuel for cooking, energy, and education.

But the benefits of successful farms reach far beyond the home.  Successful farmers are the backbone of their communities, their country, this continent, and the world.  Africa has 60 percent of the arable land on the planet.  Just think about that.  That is a tremendous opportunity for the future, not just to feed Africa’s people, but to feed the world.  The United States wants to help Africa seize this opportunity by making investments in agribusiness and in crops with greater yields and greater resistance to extreme weather.

With President Obama’s Feed the Future initiative, the United States is investing several billion dollars to improve seed quality, to enhance farming methods, to protect against soil erosion, and link small farmers to the marketplace.  When a family relies on just one or two crops for their livelihood, they are more vulnerable to the shocks of crop losses and floods.  When farmers cannot produce enough food, or sell their products for a good price, their families go hungry or are forced to sell their assets to make ends meet, perpetuating a cycle of malnutrition and hurting their long-term livelihoods.  When these families can’t access healthcare, clean water, or sanitation services, and when women and girls aren’t fully included in education, decision making, and the rural economy, the future of the whole community is at stake.

The United States is committed to working with our partners to tackle all these dimensions of extreme poverty.  We must begin this work at the household level.  Through projects such as SHARE, families will learn to better understand their household budgets – what is coming in and what is going out – as well as what resources can be built upon.  Armed with this knowledge, parents can make better decisions about saving money, farming, preparing meals, educating themselves and their children, and accessing healthcare.

We encourage families and communities to work together.  Farmers can market their produce collectively, neighbors can save together, and mothers can share ideas on food preparation to improve nutrition at home.  Of course, these communities can’t achieve this success alone. We’ve heard today about the important role that government, at all levels, plays to build prosperous communities and thriving households.  I commend the efforts and commitments proposed and demonstrated so far from our government partners.  Perhaps as the project progresses, other ideas and opportunities for support will emerge – and we will begin to see that where investments are made wisely, results are achieved.

We’ve also heard today about the potential for the private sector to contribute and benefit from growing local economies – expanding markets for banks, increasing business through small-enterprises, and accessing new suppliers of raw materials for processing goods or food.  Helping families overcome their challenges helps businesses expand and succeed.  We all have an interest in seeing local economies grow.

Nigeria is a country of vast resources and unlimited potential.  We all have a part to play in realizing this potential.  The U.S. Government remains committed to contributing to Nigeria’s success.  I am honored to stand with you today to welcome this new project.  May it serve as a model to reduce poverty which Nigeria can continue to build upon.

Thank you for coming. We wish you all the best.