The British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation (BATNF) has earmarked N700 million to fund the development of agricultural businesses across rural regions of the nation for the next four years.
The commitment integrated into its 2018/22 country programme comes in addition to the N1.5 billion injected in the last 16 years into rendering technical, economical and environmentally sustainable support to smallholder farmers.
The foundation expects to identify and proffer solutions particularly to farmers and academic institutions through partnerships with government agencies such as the Nigerian Meteorological Agency for credible weather predictions, development programmes and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD).
Kola Jamodu, the chairman of the foundation, who spoke at the launch of the programme said the foundation has identified agriculture as a potent instrument of lifting rural communities out of impoverishment as the sector holds the largest number of employer and 25 percent of Nigeria’s GDP.
He believes the future welfare of the rural population and food security standing in Nigeria will be tied to the growth potentiality of agriculture.
“Till date we have 180 programmes across the 36 states and have spent almost N1.5 billion in empowering rural Nigeria. The launch of this programme confirms the passion and commitment that guides the foundation’s programmes and implementation of activities that are geared to empower rural Nigeria for a sustainable future,” he said.
Chris McAlister, BATN’s the managing director, reiterated the foundation’s dedication to improving rural livelihood, saying agriculture is the only sector capable of absolving the unemployed labour force in the country.
He assured that more funding and other necessary assistance will be given to the 73.2 percent of less privileged households.
“I encourage all government ministries, parastatals, states, agencies and implementing partners to leverage on the grants and opportunities made available to ensure the realization of the set goal to empower rural Nigeria for a sustainable future.”