By Stella Kabruk / Tijjani Mohammed
Four organisations including Nestle and USAID have initiated a training programme for volunteers in the field of agriculture and agribusiness in Kaduna State.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports under the programme tagged `Feed the Future’, that farmers would be trained in maize quality improvement and small agricultural businesses in the state.
Other organisations involved in the project are Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA) and Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA).
Sylvian Roy, CNFA President said on Wednesday in Kaduna that the initiative would target 20, 000 farmers.
He said, “Farmers will learn how to reduce crop contaminants, to help sustainability increase the safety and quality of maize and soya beans which will lead to improve health, nutrition and livelihood in their communities.
“For the past three years, Nestle has been working with farmers to improve their agricultural practices to ensure safety and quality of their crops.
“This forms part of its creating shared value both for business and society. With these projects, the company has been able to reach 30,000 small holder farmers, helping them to increase their income by 35 per cent.”
“The new partnership is expected to expand on these efforts, reaching an additional 20,000 small holder farmers including 40 per cent women and other agro-industry entrepreneurs within the value chain.
“It is estimated that the implementation of this program will increase the sales of better quality maize and soya beans by at least 17,000 metric tons annually, helping to improve the livelihoods of these farmers.
“Over the next three years, a team of expert and 150 volunteers led by CNFA will design and deliver training programmes for reducing Aflatoxins and other contaminants in grains and maize to farmers and supply chain intermediaries, through a trainer approach.
“International experts in Mycotoxin mitigation in crops have agreed to provide volunteer advisory services on this project and the team will be working with Nigerian farmers, agribusiness intermediaries and sales agents.
“It will also include expert from Purdue University in the United States and Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and Lifelong Learning in Nigeria.
“More than 200 for-profit private enterprises such as farmers will also be trained and supported to improve their technologies and management practices.”
Speaking about the partnership, USAID Mission Director, Stephen Haykin said the partnership would help lift farmers out of poverty by sharing best practices in agricultural activities and focusing on value chains.
“It will provide farmers and suppliers the knowledge and tools to improve their produce and help them garner higher selling prices and increase household incomes.
Emphasising on the impact of the partnership on the local economy, Mr Mauricio Alarco, the CEO, Nestle Nigeria said the partnership was in line with the company’s vision of enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future.
Also, Michael Deal, President of VEGA said he was pleased to have brought these partners together to create sustainable supply chain solutions to enhance the wellbeing of farmers.
NAN also reports that a memorandum of understanding was signed between the organization and Soba Local Government of Kaduna State.