In renewal of its commitment developmental contributions to Africa, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has invigorated boost food production in the Northeast, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)- funded Feed the Future Nigeria Resilience Activity, disbursed N82.4 million loan facility to 262 smallholder farmers from Gombe and Yobe States.
According to the agency, farmers in three clusters namely; Motherhen Farmers Akko Cooperative Society with 107 members, Motherhen Farmers Kwami Cooperative Society Limited with 97 members and Motherhen Farmers Yobe Cooperative Society Limited with 58 members, benefited from the resources sourced through partnership with Mercy Corps and Sterling Bank.
Speaking at the disbursement ceremony organised by Sterling Bank and Rural Resilience Activity implemented by Mercy Corps in collaboration with the International Fertilizer Development Centre (IFDC) and Save Children International (SCI), in Gombe, the Acting Country Director, Mercy Corps Nigeria, Mrs Adesola Osuji noted that her organization was committed to improving food security in Nigeria.
She said, “Mercy Corps is committed to improving food security in Nigeria. This is underscored in our global and country strategies. The loan disbursement to the women-led farmers’ cooperatives will not only foster financial security and increase economic opportunities for the women but also contribute to advancing food security and to breaking the bias against women. It will further project women as key stakeholders in the food industry.”
According to her, the loan is in response to the rising food insecurity caused by high cost of agro-inputs and high prices of food which are directly linked to the ongoing insecurity, the economic impact of COVID-19 and the Russia-Ukraine war, exacerbated by other macroeconomic conditions.
Also, the Chief of Party, Feed the Future Rural Resilience Activity, Mrs Margarita Aswani said more than 204 maize producers on nearly 300 hectares of land in Akko and Kwami local government areas of Gombe State as well as 58 cowpea producers in Yobe State were supported to access agricultural inputs and tractors to increase land productivity and jointly improve food security.
“We look forward to ensuring that more farmers in the Northeast continue to gain access to finance and working capital,” she added.
Meanwhile, it was gathered that the 262 participants who benefited from the loan facility included women and young smallholder farmers and agribusiness owners in Gombe and Yobe State.