The Feed the Future Nigeria Agricultural Policy Project has engaged members of the Nigerian Media, on the platform of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) to promote effective agricultural policies.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP on the sideline of the Guiding Sustainable Intensification in Sub Saharan Africa(GISAIA) workshop in Abuja recently, Principal Investigator of the Project, Assistant Professor Agricultural Food and Resource Economics, Dr Saweda Liverpool-Tasie said "The policy was inspired by several key issues including the need to ensure that key policy persons are effective
Dr Tasie said "The five-year project is a $12.5m initiative designed to address the need for policy research and capacity building and to ensure that Nigeria institutions are equipped to respond effectively and in a timely manner to increasing capacity"
She said "The policy was inspired by the idea that you can strengthen the agricultural policy in Nigeria by strengthening interactions and the policy process through rigorous research, feeding information to various stakeholders and ensure that the information is used and used effectively"
The Assistant Don said "We have several pillars that our project tries to do, such as training of ministry staff, both federal and states, university students, faculty and individuals at institutions of higher learning and also engage with researchers from across the country. We also have the scholars program where we actually have Nigerian students, Masters and PhD coming to the Michigan State University (MSU) and spending a semester or a year depending on their programme"
She said the students work with research teams and also with faculties at the MSU and also other researchers. Adding that "they take classes such as Research designs, Econometrist, Statistics, Mathematics things that would help to build up their tool kits for high quality research"
On the impact of the project on the Nigerian agricultural sector, she said "policy makers need good research and data and those with access to the data to be able to analyse them properly "Basically the idea is to have a more encompassing communications system and strategy based on solid evidence, so research is very critical to all of these policy analysis and research to be able to improve lives"
"Ultimately we hope that it leads to improved productivity of farmers but we also want to ensure that government and private sector, that government would be able to create a conducive environment for the private sector and the farmer to operate successfully
She said the USAID Feed the Future has seven focus states, including Benue, Kaduna, kebbi, Niger, Cross river, Ebonyi and Delta states respectively.
Also speaking, Assistant Professor, International Development of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics, Oyinkan Tasie, PhD said the engagement was necessary to help drive agricultural policies among stake holders down to the grass roots.
He further revealed that "the Project is a joint effort between the MSU, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Nigeria Strategy support Programme (NSSP)and funded by the USAID-Nigeria"
Mr Tasie further revealed that the initiative has 3 principal objectives, including "strengthening the national capacity for greater evidence based policy processes in agriculture, promoting and fostering informed policy dialogue among stakeholders in the agricultural sector and supporting efforts to improve their capacities to plan and implement effective policy analyses".