The United States Department of Agriculture’s Food for Progress programme has entered into a cooperative agreement with Lutheran World Relief to strengthen the cocoa value chain in Nigeria.
The project, which is worth approximately $22 million and will be implemented over the next five years. The primary objective of the Food for Progress project is to increase cocoa productivity by leveraging climate-smart agricultural measures.
In addition, the project will support improved access to inputs, technical resources, capacity, post-harvest processing, and export markets.
Counsellor for Agricultural Affairs, U.S. Mission Nigeria, Gerald Smith, told THISDAY that the project will employ an approach that enables farmers to not only produce more cocoa and preserve the land’s fertility and biodiversity, but also realise an important triple bottom line of people, profit, and the planet.
“Food for Progress programme is the cornerstone of United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service international capacity-building efforts with the principal objectives of improving agricultural productivity and expanding trade of agricultural products,” Smith said.
Over the years, Food for Progress projects have trained farmers in animal and plant health, improved farming methods, developed road and utility systems, established producer cooperatives, provided microcredit, and developed agricultural value chains.
Lutheran World Relief will carry out project activities in Abia, Cross River, Ekiti, Akwa Ibom, Ondo and Osun states – benefitting approximately 68,000 farmers. In particular, the project will target farmers in low productivity but highly promising areas, as well as farmers in high-density, high-productivity communities.
The Foreign Agricultural Service is the overseas arm of the United States Department of Agriculture. It offers a variety of services to American and Nigerian agribusiness companies, and government and non-government entities involved in agricultural trade and development. Through a variety of programmes, the service helps developing countries strengthen sustainable agricultural practices by providing capacity-building opportunities.
Staffed with dedicated agri-business specialists, the Foreign Agricultural Service works closely with Nigerian partners to assist Nigeria to improve agricultural productivity, food distribution, food security and trade.