Delta, AUDA-NEPAD empower 3,380 farmers to mitigate impact of COVID -19, flood

The African Union Development Agency and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD), in collaboration with Delta Government, have trained and empowered no fewer than 3,380 farmers in Delta.

Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa, who flagged off the One-Day training programme, organised by AUDA-NEPAD and the Delta Government on Wednesday in Asaba, said that benefitting farmers would be trained in six commodities; fisheries, rice, cassava, poultry, piggery and vegetables.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the programme was, “Innovative Strengthening of Smallholder Farmers Capabilities Towards Productive Land Restoration Amid COVID-19 and Flood in Nigeria.

Okowa, represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Chief Patrick Ukah, thanked the African Union, AUDA-NEPAD for selecting Delta as one of the pilot states in Nigeria for the implementation of the programme.

He said that the programme has been domesticated and domiciled in the state Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources as a 10-year plan to grow agriculture and boost food security in the state.

According to the governor, this programme is one of the landmark initiatives of the African Union which came on the heels of economic devastation brought by COVID-19 pandemic.

“Its four major objectives are, eradicating poverty, promoting sustainable growth and development, integrating Africa and the World economy, including the accelerating development of women.
“Agriculture remains central to African countries in their pursuit of these objectives but they lack the technical leverage of the industrialised world.

“Hence the broad aim of the programme is to strengthen smallholder farmers, accelerate productive land restoration, combat desertification and promote the use of innovative technology to reduce post-harvest loses and maximise food security in Nigeria and in Africa.

“Against this backdrop, the AUDA-NEPAD programme is domesticated for sustainability, it’s a 10-year plan food sufficiency in our continent.

“It will help to meet the domestic food need and actualise the zero hunger policy of Nigeria, the African Union and the SMART Agenda of Delta.”

Okowa added, “to achieve this in Delta, the AUDA-NEPAD, with the support of the state government, has screened and selected 3,380 smallholder farmers across the 25 Local Government Areas of the state comprising of men, women and persons living with disabilities.”

He, however, charged the participants to remain committed to the programme in order to grow the country’s economy through agriculture.

In her remarks, National Co-ordinator and Chief Executive Officer, AUDU-NEPAD, Princess Gloria Akobundu, represented by its State Director, Mrs Christie Eruotor, said the programme was to cushion the impact of COVID-19 and Flood on the farmers.

Akobundu, however, said that the benefiting farmers would be adequately empowered at the end of the programme on innovative technologies on how to increase their farming activities.
Earlier, in his address, the State Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr Geoffrey Enita, said that the programme was an intervention of African Union that entails a 10-year support for African governments.

According to him, it is COVID intervention by the African Union that entails a 10-year support for African governments to undertake a range of measures to protect their population from the immediate and long term social, economic and humanitarian impact of the pandemic.

He noted that the programme was spearheaded by the Nigerian Governors Forum, which appointed Gov. Okowa and his Akwa Ibom counterpart, Prof. Emmanuel Udom, to represent the South South region.

He said that at the end of the training of the selected 3,380 smallholder farmers, that the African Union Continental Office was expected to fund their empowerment.

While thanking the state government for attracting the programme, Enita tasked the farmers, whom he described as the bedrock of food production, to remain committed to the training to upgrade their knowledge on best farming practice.

In their goodwill messages, former State Commissioner for Agriculture, Chief Julius Egbedi, and Chief Jerry Ossai, Former, State Chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), lauded the programme, saying the country has no business with hunger if every household could own a small farm.

According to them, the state government has shown commitment by paying its counterpart funds to attract most programmes to grow the state economy. (NAN)