Gates Foundation $2.1M Grant Aim at Smallholder Farmers in Nigeria
According to the Bill and Melinda Foundation, its latest donation of $2.1 million to Nigeria will support smallholder farmers by funding research and development in climate-smart agriculture.
This was said by Enock Chikava, the Foundation’s interim director for agricultural development, in an interview with NAN on Sunday in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, which was held in conjunction with the ongoing UN Conference on Climate Change.
The Foundation stated earlier this week that it will be supporting Africa, especially Nigeria, with $1.4 billion. According to the Foundation, the investment will encourage regional innovation to develop a pipeline of climate-smart agriculture projects for smallholder farmers.
While Nigeria’s agricultural sector is allocated $2.1 million for research and development, Mr. Chikava said that the foundation will raise $9 million for technology that would improve livestock and crop production in the area.
“Smallholder farmers are the only thing we are concerned with. You can see last year’s terrible drought and this year’s floods if you examine the effects of climate change across time, which I am sure have been seen in your own country.
“So if you look at it, there are a lot of things that are bad for people’s livelihoods, since 50% of your population depends on agriculture, and if agriculture accounts for 30% of your GDP, you need to safeguard it.
“Now that the system for bringing people out of extreme poverty is under serious threat from climate change, we are going to spend $1.4 billion to ensure that we do far better job. We concentrate entirely on smallholder farmers.
“This refers to crops like cassava. We require cassavas that can withstand floods and draughts. Floods in Nigeria have been a problem. The draught genre was never included in the research pipeline and was only occasionally a game, but now it exists and is most certainly going to become more common.
“Therefore, developing cassava in Nigeria is necessary for both the present and the future. We thus carry out that and concentrate on crops like cowpea. Nigeria’s worth in cowpea is 4.9 hectares, and the bulk of the farmers rely on it as a source of protein.
“We are going to make sure that smallholder farmers have access to them by introducing new kinds that are climate robust,” he said.
The Gates representative commented on how well certain African nations fared in various efforts, while others lagged behind.
“There is a biannual preview that considers each nation’s development because there are certain markers.
“You can tell which nations are performing well and which are trailing behind by looking at those statistics.
“According to the Maputo/Malabo Declaration, 10% of the budget must be allocated to agriculture, but Nigeria only pledges less than 2.5%.
“Without concentrating on research and development, you cannot succeed. Are you familiar with palm trees? Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Liberia are where they originally came from.
“At the moment, Malaysia and Indonesia produce 98% of the world’s palm. Do you know which importer is largest? Nigeria.
“The difference is in research and development, which can occur in cassava or any other crop. We must therefore give top priority to research and development,” according to Mr. Chikava.