Port Harcourt - The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has commended the Agricultural Transformation Agenda as a bold initiative by the Federal Government to re-define the face of agriculture as a business.
Miss Atsuko Toda, the IFAD Country Programme Manager, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Port Harcourt that agriculture had the capacity to create jobs and ultimately eradicate poverty, if practised as a business venture.
Toda stressed the need to take into consideration the peculiarity of the various states in the implementation of the transformation in order to achieve positive results.
She said: "With every state, there is a different situation; the transformation programme has to cater for the realities in the states.
"It helps to get the states and local governments to understand that farming is a business and that farmers are entrepreneurs.
"We have to help them to ensure that their produce goes to the market and in every state, there is a different way to achieve this."
She said that to support the agricultural transformation programme, IFAD and Federal Government had packaged a new project tagged the Rice/Cassava Value Chain project, which would soon be signed by both partners for implementation to commence.
She said that currently, IFAD was supporting the Federal Government to develop value chain strategies following the setting up of value chain task forces.
"At the moment, we are supporting the task forces, the strategies and actionable points around each of the value chains."
The IFAD official gave assurance that the UN agency would support the transformation programme wherever it was needed.
According to her, the agency has expertise in the areas of market-oriented agriculture, engaging the private sector, youth-in-agriculture and women-in-agriculture, which it is willing to share with the Nigeria country programme.
"We have experience in the area of market-oriented agriculture, engaging the private sector, youth-in-agriculture,
women-in-agriculture and these experiences we will like to share with the Nigeria country programme."
Toda said Nigeria was endowed with "extremely capable people" but the major challenge was how to sort these people and bring them together to ensure they harnessed existing knowledge for the development of the country.
She urged governments at all levels to ensure that whatever projects that they were implemented were born out of the ideas of the people themselves.
She said that that was the best way to guarantee ownership and the magic of Community-Driven Development approach.