…Targets 10 million households for sustainable living income

By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief and Fortune Eromosele

Heifer International has opened discussions with Diaspora Nigerians with a view to  scale up investments in livestock production in Nigeria.

The Country Director, Heifer International-Nigeria, Rufus Idris, made the disclosure yesterday at the 4th edition of the Nigeria Diaspora Investment Summit with the theme: “Partnerships and Linkages for Post-COVID Economic Growth,” in Abuja.

He said that with the huge amount of remittances from Nigerians in the Diaspora calls for collaborations to channel the funds into growing the agric sector and livestock

Production.

 A 2019 data put Diaspora remittance at about $25 billion.

Heifer is targeting 10 million households to achieve a sustainable living income by 2030, according the Mr. Idris.

He explained that cutting down on importations could prove positive on the economy, hence the need for unlocking untapped potentials in the industry.

Mr. Idris further said that Heifer seeks to provide a sustainable system of food self-sufficiency, highlighting that Nigeria has a growing population of over 200 million people and is expected to hit 400 million by 2050; with this fact, he called for workable plans to pull Diaspora investors into investing in the country’s buoyant agric sector.

He stated: “We believe that remittances from Nigerians in Diaspora is very huge. For instance, President Muhammadu Buhari once said that there’s about $25 billion remittances from Nigerians in Diaspora, that’s about 80 percent of Nigeria’s annual budget and about 6 percent of our GDP.

“That’s a huge amount of money. What we are doing here is try to see how do we collaborate with other organisations that can help us channel diaspora investment into the agricultural sector to address areas where we have problems and such investments can help unlock those areas.

“For us we are looking at sectors and value chain where we can address the issue of food self sufficiency. Nigeria with over 200 million people and growing to 400 million people by 2050, we cannot feed ourselves. We rely so much on importation.

“We are looking at areas that can help reduce importation that can support local production to meet the growing local demand. For instance in the rice value chain, the tomato value chain, poultry value chain, some of the ruminant value chain like cattle and key other areas as well.

“We want to see how do we help improve and increase production, productivity and competitiveness and also bring in technology to help scale the impact and contribution within that sector.”

He noted that as part of Heifer’s ambitious target to help 10 million households achieve sustainable living income by year 2030, he said the nonprofit organisation is investing heavily in agriculture to help improve local production to meet fast growing demands, investing in youth creativity and technology in agriculture to drive economic growth in Nigeria.

He said: “Today, more than ever, Nigeria’s Agricultural value chains require investments at transformational scale to unlock their potentials, and to improve the productivity and competitiveness of the sector. We cannot overlook the potential of diaspora investments to contribute to transforming this sector.

“Heifer International is interested in collaborations that can help link diaspora investment to viable agribusiness opportunities capable of creating impact at scale, and collaborations to promote and invest in diaspora innovations and agricultural technologies that can improve the productivity, competitiveness, resilience and incomes for millions of smallholder farmers.”

On the mechanized tractor business for smallholder farmers, he said that the Heifer Tractor Initiative accommodates farmers who do not own tractors, adding that the organisation is in partnership with ‘Hello Tractor’ to make available usable tractors for farmers.

His words, “In Nigeria, the Heifer Tractor Initiative is still new, Heifer has been around for 77 years globally, we are in more than 25 different countries globally. We are new in Nigeria, we are just piloting a collaboration with Hello Tractor that’s deploying the ‘Pay as you Go’ tractor model.

“It’s a way you get more tractor service providers to own tractors closer to farmers, so that they can be able to make tractors available to smallholder farmers. Not just tractor itself, other components that come with the tractor like harrower, harvester, plougher, planters and any other components that have shortage in the country as well.”

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