Nigeria seeks Bill Gates Foundation support to enhance Agric sector

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Education, skills development panacea for ending poverty, hunger in Nigeria – Shettiima

By Abdullahi Mohammed, Abuja

 

Vice President Kashim Shettima said Wednesday that education and skills development are the panacea for addressing poverty and hunger in Nigeria. 

The Vice President said this during a meeting with a delegation from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation led by the President of its Global Growth and Opportunity Division, Mr Rodger Voorhies, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja. 

He underscored the impact of climate change on agricultural productivity and the urgent need to adopt climate-smart agricultural practices to ensure food security for Nigeria’s growing population.

He urged the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to forge a strategic partnership with the Nigerian government to enhance agricultural productivity, improve nutrition and strengthen the education sector.

He also charged the group to support President Bola Tinubu’s gender empowerment initiatives, stressing that the programmes which are focused on the girl child are critical to Nigeria’s drive to alleviate poverty.

The Vice President Shettima expressed appreciation for the foundation’s significant contributions to Nigeria, particularly in the areas of polio eradication and primary healthcare delivery.

Highlighting the need for the foundation’s continued support in the Nigerian agricultural sector, the Vice President said: “We are investing heavily in agricultural innovation and best agricultural practices to enhance productivity. However, we need the expertise and resources of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate our progress.”

He also emphasized the importance of education and skills development in addressing poverty and hunger, and urged the foundation to collaborate with the Nigerian government in expanding access to quality education and further provide opportunities for skills development, particularly in the agricultural sector.

“By the end of the century, we are projected to be the most populous nation on earth. This demographic bulge can be transformed into a dividend or a disaster. Investing in education and skills development is crucial for ensuring that our growing population becomes a source of strength and not a burden,” he said.

He reiteratd the call for a strong partnership between the Nigerian government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, stressing that such partnership would yield transformative results in addressing Nigeria’s agricultural, nutritional and educational challenges. 

“If a nation is not independent in food production, it remains a dependent nation. So, I am soliciting your partnership and attention. Join us in our drive towards combating poverty and hunger in sub-Saharan Africa as you did in Southeast Asia,“ he said.

Also speaking, Mr Rodger Voorhies said his team was in Nigeria to strengthen the existing collaborations with Nigeria and seek other areas of partnership with the new administration, especially in priority sectors.

He commended the Tinubu administration for its agenda on food security and healthcare delivery while acknowledging the the Vice President’s leadership and commitment to nutrition and agricultural transformation. 

He assured of the foundation’s commitment and readiness to support efforts aimed at achieving set goals and objectives.