By Vivian Emoni
The Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development on Thursday, reiterated its commitment in supporting 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 a 35th Anniversary Celebration of Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA), in Abuja.
Abubakar, represented by the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mr Ernest Umakhihe, said that the support had helped the association to improve agricultural production across the country.
He said that the SAA hays been active for the past three decade in service to Africa agriculture, adding that the association had worked with thousands of frontline extension agents and leaders of farmers.
He added that the association had also worked in 15 African countries to promote the use of agricultural technology to a wide range of sustainable crops from maize, wheat, rice, millet, among others.
He said that the SAA had made several effort by impacting technical skills and knowledge on the global agricultural practices in the sector.
According to him, the current administration of the President Mohammadu Buhari is fully in support of the activities of SAA in Nigeria.
“Under the Memorandum of Understanding, (MoU) signed by the ministry, SAA works with the federal and state agencies to relate agriculture and improve agricultural productivity food crop marketing.
“SSA has moved beyond crop production enhancement to agro processes, marketing and capacity building on farmer’s growth.
“The effort is to encourage participation of women farmers and youths in agricultural activities through service provision in the area of post-harvest and agro processing.
“Another critical issue is to address widely change for SAA strategy through it implementation and extension of climate technology,” he said.
The minister said that the object of SAA was to create frontline extension staff and small owner famers in order to increase crop production and productivity given the size of Nigeria.
He said that more than 2,000 extension agent and one million small holder farmers in the north have participated in the SAA programme.
He added that the new area of focus which was an additional responsibility to SAA were sustainable and regeneration agriculture, in response to the soil regeneration and climate change, market oriented agriculture and farming as a business.
Prof. Sani Miko, Country Director of the association, said that the association had advance to other states and grown from one universities to about nine, adding that it would as well extend to more universities.
Miko said that the association had touched lives of over five million farmers in the country, since its inception.
“If you put together from 1992, when the association established till now, we have touched the lives of over 5 million owner’s farmers and we have trained close to six thousand extensions to a degree level.
“We don’t only focus on northern 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 extend to other states,” he said.
Also, Mr Edache Oloche Former Permanent Secretary of the ministry, said that SAA was established to improve agricultural production, focusing on crops at a time most African countries were experiencing serious food shortage.
Oloche said that the association had achieved tremendously in the increase of maize and wheat production through the support of the ministry.
Speaking, Mr Frank Kudla, Department of Agricultural Extension Services in the ministry, said that many farmers has benefited from the oriented intervention of SAA across the participating states.
Kudla said that Public Private Partnership relationship between SAA and players in national extension service delivery in Nigeria created avenue for direct training of farmers.
He said that the training had improved synergy with other agricultural agencies, leading to massive mobilisation of small holder farmers in the country. (NAN)