The Federal Government has expressed its readiness to partner with an international non-governmental organisation (NGO), the Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA) on extension services to further boost the country's agricultural sector.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, disclosed this when the Chairperson of SAA Board, Prof. Ruth Oniang'o, led a delegation of the association to his office in Abuja.
Adesina noted that the partnership would help the country in the demonstration of its extension programmes, adding that it would also go a long way to help creating jobs for the unemployed youths.
He said: "Sasakawa Global 2000 is a strategic partnership in our quest to transform the country. It is well known for maize and has demonstrations in over 200 countries. Many women farmers were able to know about hybrid seeds, especially in Kenya, Mali and even Nigeria due to the efforts of Sasakawa".
The minister, who commended the association for helping to avert food crisis in Ethiopia and Uganda, assured that Nigeria would continue to work with it to improve farming methods in the country.
Adesina informed that the federal government had set aside N37 billion to create jobs for the youth through the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA), adding that the present administration did not take agriculture as a development programme, but as business in order to develop the sector.
To achieve this, he said the government had been involving the organised private sector in all its reforms so as to grow the sector.
The minister said, "We have liberalised the process of seeds and fertilisers for the farmers to get the inputs at the right time and affordable prices".
Adesina explained that SAA administers and manages Sasakawa Global 2000, a programme aimed at ensuring food security in sub-Saharan Africa, and also educates small-scale farmers on modern farming methods, including the use of quality seeds and small amount of fertiliser to increase agricultural yield.
Earlier, Oniang'o assured the minister that the association would work with the strategic ATA action plan of the federal government, especially in the area of training experts on agriculture extension services.
She said: "We are to produce expertise that would train extension workers for Nigeria. We will also like to create jobs for women in Nigeria because women are the ones who are involved in post harvest in agriculture".
The NGO chairperson added that it would also create awareness on the use of agro-processing in order to increase economic viability methods and to improve the links between Africa's farms and urban areas in Nigeria.
She lauded the ministry's value chain programmes, noting that it was only agriculture that could transform Nigeria's economy.