The Vice President,Yemi Osinbajo, on Wednesday called for agricultural policy alignment between the federal and state governments in order to eliminate duplicity and enhance full implementation.
Osinbajo made the call in Abuja at an event to wrap up the pilot phase of the State Partnership for Agriculture (SPA) Programme, implemented by Synergos Nigeria, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO).
Represented by Mr Andrew Kwasari, his Senior Technical Adviser on Agriculture, Osinbajo said that effective policy alignment between the two tiers of government would no doubt increase agricultural activities across the country.
He said the SPA programme had contributed immensely in that regard in the three pilot states and had also impacted on the lives of rural farmers who “work tirelessly to ensure that we regularly have food on our table”.
“The key lesson from the work of Synergos in Nigeria over the past three years is the creation of policy alignment in agriculture between the federal and state governments.
“This is a very critical piece of work. No doubt, this has helped the small scale farmers to boost their productivity and income in the states where SPA programme was executed.
“This alignment should not end mainly on paper, but create that broad space to view things, such that there will be coherence between the federal and state governments in promoting specific agriculture interventions that are backed by clear policy.
“So this policy alignment is a big thing that Synergos Nigeria has initiated and we hope all states in the country will be able to have clear alignment with what the federal government is doing for transparency and accountability sake,” he said.
He said that the Federal Government, would not relent in its effort to give support to individuals and non-governmental organisations to see that agriculture took its rightful place.
The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports that SPA, launched in 2016 in Benue, Kaduna and Kogi, was sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).
Mr Adewale Ajadi, Director, Synergos Nigeria, said that the programme had impacted on the lives of rural farmers, especially women.
According to Ajadi, over the past three years, the intervention has “remarkably improved” the performance of its parent states.
“SPA is a system-strengthening effort designed to enable state agriculture stakeholders to prioritise agricultural development initiatives.
“Synergos, through this programme, has helped solve some complex issues in three pilot states, Benue, Kaduna, and Kogi, by advancing leadership that builds trust and collective action.
“Under the programme, N40, 000 loan was given to 30 women farmers each in the three states.
“When we started, we discovered that many of the states did not have programmes on agricultural policy or have focus on how to generate income from agriculture.
“But today, a lot has changed in that regard. Women have taken over the mantle of leadership across these three primary states.
“The country in the past focused on oil and neglected the natural endowment we were blessed with. We have seen results step up significantly in the rural areas.
“We hope that agriculture becomes prominent, not just a subject, but marginal engagement with a central focus across the country for the betterment of the nation’s economy,” he said.
Also speaking, Mr Victor Adejoh, the Deputy Director, Synergos Nigeria, noted that before the SPA intervention, the total hectares of cassava planted in Kogi state had increased from 500 to 2, 750 in the past three years.
“The rice yield per hectare has also increased from 1.2 at inception to 3.5 tonnes by 2018,” he said.
He added that through the Core Delivery Team (CDT) support to policies, the Kogi State Government had increased its budgetary allocation to agriculture from 4.53 per cent in 2017 to 6.56 per cent in 2018.
“Synergos empowered 3, 000 women to take up rice farming and that has increased their productivity by 100 per cent, by connecting them to rice mills for quick sale of their produce.
“Benue state never had an agric policy. What we did was to support the development of a policy and this took us one and half years to achieve.
“Lack of a guiding document for the agricultural sector in Benue and other states where we worked, was due to the absence of political will on the part of the government.
“Also in Kaduna state, female agro-processor emerged through the SPA intervention and at least, 500 women took part in rice farming to earn a living and better their livelihood,” he added.
Adejoh expressed the hope that they would get another support from their sponsors, BMGF, adding that a lot of states had indicated interest in participating in the next phase of the programme.
Some of the beneficiaries, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), applauded the programme and called for its introduction in more states and sustainability in the three primary states.
Highlight of the event was the launched of a news magazine that contained SPA success story in the three pilot shares.