From: Magnus Eze, Abuja
The British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation (BATNF) said it has spent N1billion in community development in the last 15 years.
Executive Director, BATNF, Abimbola Okoya, in her opening remarks at the 2017 Dialogue session on smallholder farmers and sustainable agriculture in Nigeria, held in Abuja, on Tuesday, disclosed that the Foundation had, since the maiden dialogue in 2015, increased support to smallholder farmers by 200 per cent; improving their agricultural practices through capacity building, giving them access to finance through input contribution and linkage to markets.
According to Okoya, BATNF has in its 15 years of existence implemented over 150 community projects in the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory as well as trained 18,000 farmers.
Also speaking, Chairman, Board of Directors, Chief Kola Jamodu disclosed that the Foundation earmarked N200million to empower smallholder farmers across the country this year.
He said the Foundation was determined to work with the Federal Government, other partners and stakeholders to move the nation’s agriculture from subsistence to commercial level.
Represented by a member of the board, Ageni Yusuf, the BoT Chairman said they do this through provision of inputs, machinery and capacity to the farmers.
“Depending on the crop, some of them get one tonne per hectare, but we have been supporting them with high-yielding grains. Now they have increased their yield to more than 2.5 to 3 tonnes per hectare. Not only that, we are supporting them with the right quality fertilizer; we’re helping them with clearing the land. Many of them clear and till the land manually; you can see the subsistence, but we’re helping them, providing tractors.
“This year alone, we have developed about 16 of what we call model enterprise farms in different parts of the country. And that is why we have brought these smallholder farmers; each having at least one hectare of land, where we’ll show them model practical way of farming involving the improved seeds, fertilizer, clearing the land; and the project for this year is almost N200million,” he stated.