In fulfilment of its commitment to fostering sustainable agricultural practices, the British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation (BATNF) recently hosted its biennial Agribusiness Dialogue Session, aimed at addressing the challenges faced by Agripreneurs and create sustainable paths in the agricultural sector.
The dialogue session with the theme: Turning Challenges into Opportunities: Establishing Sustainable Strategies and Pathways for Smallholder Farmers in the Agrifood System, underscores the Foundation’s support agribusiness and grow sustainable agriculture in the country.
In her opening remarks, Executive Director of BATNF, Ololade Johnson-Agiri, stated that since the inception of the Foundation in 2002, the Foundation has remained committed to sustainable agriculture development and the improvement of livelihoods of smallholder farmers, their families, and communities.
“In her words: “Since the establishment of the BATN Foundation in 2002, we have been working determinedly to empower smallholder farmers through a range of programmes and initiatives. We believe that smallholder farmers are the key to unlocking Nigeria’s agricultural potential and ensuring food security for future generations.”
In his keynote address, Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Prof. Olusola Kehinde, commended BATN Foundation for focusing on helping smallholder farmers in Nigeria succeed while also acknowledging the challenges that must be addressed to achieve sustainable agriculture.
He said: “The expectation is that this dialogue will proffer a more robust and adaptable strategy that could be deployed to sufficiently address the challenges facing smallholder farmers in the nation, and unlock their potential to contribute to economic growth within the agri-food system and beyond.”
Also in her goodwill message, Director, Enterprise Development Centre (EDC), Pan-Atlantic University, Nneka Okekearu, encouraged stakeholders to be deliberate about advancing sustainable agriculture and supporting the well-being of farmers and rural communities.
“Our smallholder farmers are the backbone of our communities, producing over 80 percent of Nigeria’s food and as we embark on this dialogue, let us recognize the pivotal role they play in feeding our nation and sustaining livelihoods. Today’s discussions are not mere conversations; they are seeds of change that, when planted and nurtured, will grow into pathways leading our farmers to sustainable success”, she stated.
The dialogue session served as a platform for in-depth discussions and deliberations, where all participants, including government representatives, private sector stakeholders, and experts, convened to explore and analyze the strategies and initiatives necessary to drive the smallholder farming sector forward.
It also featured plenary sessions, breakout sessions and fireside chats with experts on The Power of Collaboration: Climate Change and Agrifood System Partnership and Empowering Youths: Tech-Driven Agricultural Opportunities, which explored the opportunities for youth in technology-driven agriculture, smallholder farmers and the path to sustainable agriculture.
Since its inception in 2002, the BATNF has left an indelible and impactful mark on communities across Nigeria. Their impact extends to over 1.2 million individuals through the implementation of approximately 250 projects nationwide, supporting 44 institutions, and an investment of N2.4 billion in rural community development activities.
These initiatives cover various aspects, including the provision of clean water, environmental preservation, vocational skills training, and the promotion of agricultural development.