The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has launched the design of a new Country Strategic Opportunities Programme (COSOP) in Nigeria as part of its efforts to give smallholder farmers better support and a better future in order to achieve food security, reduce poverty and generate prosperity. Speaking during a one-day National Technical Workshop, held in Abuja recently, the Country Director of IFAD, Mrs. Dede Ekoue, said: “The launch of the upcoming IFAD Country Strategic Opportunity Programme (COSOP) 2024- 2029 marks a great milestone in our continued collaboration with the Federal Government of Nigeria”. While giving highlights about the current COSOP 2016-2023, Ekoue said “the overall goal is a rural economy in which the targeted population can derive prosperity and equal benefit from economic growth.” She noted that key results from the current COSOP included about 5,144,805 direct beneficiaries, of which 55% are women and 59 percent are youth. The programme also covered 28 states in six geopolitical zones. There was also an increase in productivity rate: Rice (125%-200%), cassava (100%-150%), Groundnut (21%) and Maize (135%). “The current COSOP is focused on transforming agriculture and rural development to derive prosperity and equal benefits from economic growth, this programme has however recorded some important successes such as the innovation of the Commodity Alliance Forum (CAF), Agricultural Market Information Systems (AMIS), Customized digital agricultural advisory services (I.e. PAD), Youth Enterprise Incubator Model, Leveraged private sector investment and know-how, Good Agronomic Practices (GAPs)”.
According to her: “COSOP is not a policy but a strategy and so if a COSOP is not aligned to government priorities then it is not a COSOP” Speaking on the overview of COSOP 2024-2029, the Programme Officer, IFAD, Mr. Joseph Nganga noted that “the major target of the programme remains the smallholder farmers and so if this is not achieved, then it will be recorded that COSOP has failed in its goals and might most likely not achieve aimed results.” For her part the Deputy Director, Irrigation and Agricultural Development, Federal Ministry of Agriculture (FMARD), Mrs. Sugra Mahmood presented key policy trusts on the different policies that support the work being done in the agricultural sector that are relevant to the IFAD mandate. However, the National Convener, Nigeria Food Systems, Federal Ministry of Finance, National Planning and Budget (FMFNPB) said in his remarks that “the initiative came out in 2020 December where the Secretary General of the United Nations instructed that all countries look inward and identify the challenges of food in our various countries so all countries can achieve food security by 2030. As he described the year 2021-2030 as a decade of action in line with the SDG goals”. He said “with this over 40 dialogues were held which produced about 78 recommendations that can transform the entire food system and change the narrative. He applauded the country director’s effort for carrying every relevant stakeholder along from farmers to women to youth to private sector to government to development partners and international bodies”.