The Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development reiterated on Thursday its commitment to support the Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA), an NGO, to promote the use of agricultural technology in the country.
The Minister of Agricultural and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammed Abubakar, said this at the celebration of the 35th anniversary of the Sasakawa African Association (SAA), in Abuja.
He said the SAA has been active for the past three decades serving Africa’s agriculture, adding that the association had worked with thousands of front-line extension agents and farmer leaders.
He added that the association has also worked in 15 African countries to promote the use of agricultural technology in a wide range of sustainable crops such as corn, wheat, rice, millet, among others.
He said the SAA had made several efforts on skills and knowledge of global agricultural practices in the sector.
“SSA has gone beyond improving crop production to agricultural processes, marketing and building capacity for farmer growth.
“The effort is to encourage the participation of women farmers and young people in agricultural activities through the provision of services in the area of post-harvest and agro-processing.
“Another critical issue is addressing the widespread change in SAA strategy through the implementation and extension of climate technology,” he said.
The minister said the purpose of the SAA was to create front-line extension staff and small farmers in order to increase production and crop productivity given the size of Nigeria.
He said that more than 2,000 extension workers and a million small farmers in the north have participated in the SAA program.
He added that the new focus area, which was an additional responsibility for SAA, was sustainable and regenerative agriculture, in response to soil regeneration and climate change, market-oriented agriculture and agriculture as a business.
Professor Sani Miko, the association’s country director, said the association had advanced to other states and grew from one university to nine, adding that it would also expand to more universities.
Miko said that the association has touched the lives of more than five million farmers in the country, since its inception.
“If it comes together since 1992, when the association was established until now, we have touched the lives of more than 5 million owner farmers and we have trained close to six thousand extensions to grade level.
“We not only focus on the north side, we have been in Cross River since 2014, we are in Ondo, Ogun, Abia, Kogi, Kastina, Kano, Kaduna, Gombe. With the help of the federal government, we plan to expand to other states, ”he said.
In addition, Mr. Edache Oloche, former permanent secretary of the ministry, said that SAA was established to improve agricultural production, focusing on crops at a time when most African countries were experiencing severe food shortages.
Oloche said that the association had achieved tremendously in increasing corn and wheat production through the support of the ministry.
Speaking, Mr. Frank Kudla, from the ministry’s Department of Agricultural Extension Services, said that many farmers have benefited from SAA’s targeted intervention in participating states.
Kudla said that the Public Private Partnership relationship between SAA and the actors in the provision of national extension services in Nigeria created an avenue for direct training of farmers.
He said the training had improved synergy with other agricultural agencies, leading to a massive mobilization of small farmers in the country.
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