NIGERIA – ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) has earmarked US$78 million to support the Community Allied Farmers Association of Nigeria (COMAFAS)

The funding, announced by Massandje Toure-Litse, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Economic Affairs and Agriculture is aimed at advancing the training of young farmers in poultry farming and aquaculture.

The ECOWAS funding injection signifies a crucial step towards bridging these production gaps and addressing food security concerns in Nigeria.

It also reflects a commitment to empowering the country’s youth, particularly in rural areas, by equipping them with the skills and resources necessary to contribute significantly to the agricultural sector.

The funding allocated to COMAFAS will be channelled into a comprehensive training program designed to empower 150 young farmers operating in the states of Bauchi and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The program seeks to enhance the capacities of these young and women farmers, improve their access to resources and markets, and encourage their participation in the agro-industry sector.

Massandje Toure-Litse underscored the importance of agricultural products, including crops, livestock, and fisheries, in intra-community trade within the ECOWAS region.

“Nigeria, where fish is a primary source of animal protein for the population, faces challenges in meeting the growing demand for poultry and aquaculture products,” he noted.

“While chicken meat is a significant protein source, domestic production has not yet reached levels sufficient to fulfil the country’s market needs.”

According to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), livestock holds a prominent position, and there is a shared goal to increase the employment of young people in the agricultural sector.

By 2030, it is expected that at least 30% of young individuals in the sub-region will be engaged in agriculture, potentially reducing youth underemployment in rural areas by 75%.

With the largest poultry herd in West Africa, Nigeria had an estimated population of more than 240 million poultry in 2021.

However, the country still struggles to meet its chicken meat consumption demands, which are estimated at 1.5 million tonnes annually.

Aquaculture, on the other hand, contributes only around 27% of the local fish supply, despite the domestic demand exceeding 1.1 million tonnes in 2021.

According to FAO, aquaculture in Nigeria has been steadily growing in response to increasing demand for fish and seafood.

Previously, Nigeria’s aquaculture sector primarily focused on cultivating catfish and tilapia, with some ventures involving producing other fish species.

Meanwhile, the government of Nigeria recognized the potential of aquaculture to enhance food security and generate employment opportunities, leading to implementing of policies and initiatives to support the industry’s sustainable development.

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