By Palma Ileye
Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Sen. Abubakar Atiku Bagudu has said that the assistance of the SNV Netherlands Development Organization was crucial in addressing critical issues affecting the country’s agricultural sector and in guaranteeing food security for the populace.
According to the Ministry’s press release, Bagudu stated this when he received on an official visit the Chief Executive of SNV Netherlands Development Organization, Mr. Simon O’Connell in his office in Abuja.
He said that the visit aligns with the sustainable solutions being sought by the Federal Government in some critical sectors of the economy.
The Minister who expressed the readiness of the Tinubu administration’s to collaborate with relevant Stakeholders, not only to enhance agricultural productivity in Nigeria but across Africa, added that assistance of Netherlands Development Organization be it technical or otherwise, towards addressing challenges in the country’s agricultural sector, was critical.
During his remarks, Bagudu assured the delegates that the Ministry will partner with them particularly in the area of gainfully engaging the youth population productively, revealing that the Netherlands Development Organization have three core areas of sectoral focus-Agriculture (-food,), water and energy, which have significantly impacted on this three sectors globally.
He said: “These are really areas that are consistent with the Renewed Hope agenda of President Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. We have a Minister for Youth, and Minister for Digital economy, a young man himself. We also have the Minister for Women Affairs on gender issues. We can call and arrange another meeting, so that we can see how we will expand this discussion.
“And again, we can involve some of the Commissioners of economic planning in the respective states. We have what is called a community of practice mechanism where we communicate with them to see how much you can help us with or how much we can partner.”
The Budget Minister informed that the focus of the Netherlands Government aligns with the priority areas of the present administration which was agriculture and food security, these areas which according to him, were the biggest sources of income generation for the country considering the ability of the sectors to help reduce inflation.
On his part, Mr. Simon O’Connell revealed that the SNV was looking forward to increasing rice production in the country; as Nigeria is the biggest country in Africa incredibly blessed with natural resources.
He said that apart from the three core areas of sectoral focus by the organization which is agric-food, water, and energy, SNV also has deep focus on gender equality and social inclusion, climate adaptation and mitigation, and the strengthening of institutions.
“I know here in Nigeria there is significant horticultural activity. I know here in Nigeria rice production is an area that can be scaled further. Also involved in the energy sector. We’ve established and put in place 1 million youngters globally.
“We’re part of the Africa Biogas Initiative and we see tremendous opportunities to accelerate access to cleaner renewable forms of energy in Nigeria and we would be happy to explore further in this area.
“We are in the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet with the Rockefeller Foundation, IKEA Foundation and the Bezos Earth Fund and we’re establishing nine mini -grids for solar energy, for irrigated agriculture in Ethiopia and we know there are opportunities to take some of the learnings from Ethiopia through to here in Nigeria,” he explained.
It should be noted that SNV, was established in 1965 as a part of the Dutch Government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, contributing to development impacts all over the world and it became an independent foundation in 2002. The organization currently operates in approximately 25 countries around the world.