From Esther Akaa , Lafia
Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA), a non-profit organisation, says it was promoting innovative technologies that restore soil health and biodiversity aimed at helping farmers cope with the effects of climate change in their communities.
The Country Director of SAA, Dr. Godwin Atser stated this Monday during the flag-off of the 2023 Media field days in Nasarawa State.
According to him, the organisation was implementing nutrition- sensitive interventions aimed at improving the health and livelihoods of rural communities by creating awareness and promoting bio-fortified and nutrient – dense crops in order to improve food productivity .
He said that SAA which is an international organisation whose focus is on agriculture was working in four African countries including Nigeria to reduce poverty and increase productivity of food crops as well as create wealth for resources constraints farmers.
“Our contributions have shown that we have increased productivity of key crops such as maize , cassava, Millet , Sorghum , rice and some other value chains that comes in, especially looking at vegetables and the bio-fortified crops.
“We ensure that processing is a key component of what we do and we make sure that farmers get access to markets through our market oriented agriculture and not just to produce to consume but also to sell and make incomes.
“Our investment in Nasarawa State is more than a million dollars. Currently, we are building two processing centers in Obi and Lafia Local Government Areas specifically in Assakio and Agwatashi. At the completion of these facilities, we hope that farmers will have access to processing facilities for their rice and also be able to increase their productivity,” Atser said.
The Country Director stressed the need for Nasarawa State government to collaborate with development partners in the area of agriculture to provide farmers with the necessary technologies that will help improve agricultural yields as well as support farmers to mitigate the effects of climate change affecting them.
Atser appreciated the state Governor, Abdullahi Sule and the Commissioner for Agriculture, Hon. Umar Abubakar Dan-Akano for supporting agricultural extension system and urged the state to employ more extension workers in order to support the extension system for the progress of the state.
He, also called on the media to interact with beneficiaries of the SAA project during the media field days in order to know the impact it had created on the people.
Also speaking, the deputy Country Director of SAA, Dr. Abdulhamid Gambo, said the media field trip was a deliberate action to provide media professionals the opportunity to interact with beneficiaries of the project in order to get feedbacks from farmers while identifying gaps for future plans.
“This activity is a deliberate plan to allow the media to interact directly with the farmers and it is not a guided discussion from our organisation.
“The media can talk directly with the farmers and find out what is happening and let us know what is going well or wrong within the communities which will enable us to re-strategise, re-plan and re-focus on any gap identified from this trip,” he said.
On his part, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Hon. Umar Abubakar Dan-Akano, represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr. Isah Muhammad Eyah commended SAA for the providing various interventions in the state aimed at improving food productivity in the state.
He said that the state government will continue to partner the organisation and others to improve agricultural yields in the state.
Earlier, the Programme Manager, Nasarawa Agricultural Development Programme( NADP), Mr. Emmanuel Alanana, said SAA had been in the state for the past two years and was impacting positively on the lives of farmers in the state.
Alanana commended Governor Sule for prioritising agriculture and providing an enabling environment for investors to invest in agriculture in the state.
He, therefore assured of the state government’s commitment to provide more extension workers to provide farmers with basic information in order to increase agricultural yields in the state.
The Voice reports that SAA was established in 1986 by Japanese philanthropist, Ryoichi Sasakawa, Nobel Laureate, Dr. Norman Borlaug and former US President, Jimmy Carter, focusing on agricultural extension and smallholder farmer development.