Kaduna State Government is set to partner the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and Sahara Group on the Food Africa Project that seeks to boost poverty alleviation, food security and economic empowerment in the state, Governor Malam Nasir El-Rufai, has said.
Food Africa Project is a collaborative initiative involving Sahara Group, United Nations – Sustainable Development Goal Fund and the Kaduna State Government. The strategic project management approach is a forward and backward integration model aimed at optimizing the entire food value chain.
Value chain development has become one of the best strategies public sectors employ to engage and attract private investment in the agribusiness sector.
The project is expected to impact over 500,000 beneficiaries (30% direct beneficiaries and 70% indirect beneficiaries), including families with better nutrition and livelihood opportunities.
The details of the partnership were unveiled during a recent courtesy visit to the Kaduna State Government by officials of Sahara Group and UNSDG
The Governor, who was represented by his deputy, His Excellency, Barnabas Bala Bantex applauded the UN and Sahara Group for the project, stating that it would add great value to the state on food security, access to potable water and economic empowerment.
“The coming of the SDG-F representatives and Sahara group to adopt the global best practice and its importance cannot be over-emphasised. We have challenges in the agricultural sector which we believe would be addressed by this project. Indeed, we see a huge opportunity in the coming of the Sahara Group and SDG as a development that would help us adopt global best practice in agriculture and ultimately ensure that our farmers generate value from their efforts both locally and internationally,” he said.
Noting that investing in agriculture would unlocking other opportunities, the governor assured all stakeholders of his administrations “unflinching support” , adding that further discussions would be held by all parties to ensure sustained success and replication across other allied sectors.
“We are adequately motivated with the partnership and we will get to our destination because the government is committed to this partnership and investing in agriculture in the state,” he said
Speaking on the project, Sahara Group’s Executive Director, Mr. Tonye Cole, said the project would enable Sahara Foundation, UNSDG and Kaduna State government work towards achieving zero poverty level through training of youths in agriculture in the state.
He said more than 150 youths in the state had already received direct training on agriculture at the Leventis Foundation.
He expressed Sahara’s readiness to utilize farm land that has already been purchased by Sahara Foundation for out growers to boost their produce.
“Sahara is passionate about this project just like others we have identified as platforms that will enhance economic prosperity and development. We will fully align with Kaduna State Government on how to ensure that the implementation takes effect immediately. It is also about teaching the techniques on how to process, preserve and how to get much better value from agriculture produce. Once you can build trust in the local government and people can see that the government is fully involved in meeting their need, you would begin to see a strong wind of development that comes with the patriotism,” he stated
Cole added that over the next three years, Sahara Foundation plans to impact 12 million Nigerian youth in the areas of education, health, environment and sustainable community development.
According to the Director, SDG-Fund Paloma Duran, the Food Africa Initiative will cover five countries in Africa namely: Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, S/Lone and Tanzania and Nigeria.
She said food security, access to water and sanitation are the three key areas that are of interest to the UN.
“We are trying to engage different stakeholders on this agenda including Civil Society Organizations, private sector, Universities and faith-based organizations to ensure we achieve the sustainable development goals in Nigeria and across the globe,” she said.
She commended the Kaduna state government and Sahara Group for partnering with the UN on the project and reiterated the UN’s commitment to attaining the SDGs by 2030.