The Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammed Mahmood Abubakar on Friday, April 22, 2022 inaugurated the National Steering Committees (NSCs) of the Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) Project and two other Projects at a combined ministerial session in Abuja. The other two projects whose NSCs were also inaugurated are the Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Program, Phase-One (ATASP-1) supported by the African Development Bank; and Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP) supported by the World Bank.

Inaugurating the National Steering Committees, the Honourable Minister, Dr. Abubakar described the inauguration as a significant milestone in development partner projects in the agricultural sector, stating that: “It is pertinent to mention, that the collaboration and partnership existing between the donor assisted projects have yielded a remarkable result in the development of agribusiness hubs in Nigeria. This is so significant in the area of provision of food security, job creation, youth empowerment, rural development and economic diversification especially now that the country is facing an unprecedented high cost of food items.”

The Minister noted that over the years, Projects had existed without Steering Committees, making it difficult to effectively track their performance especially, the approval and monitoring of the Annual Work Plan and Budget (AWPB), which is the core responsibility of the Steering Committees as contained in the Project Appraisal Documents of all the Projects.

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe in his earlier remarks presented by Director, Agricultural Lands and Climate Change Management Services, Engr. Shehu Tijani Bello urged the Committee Members to use their experiences to carry out oversight functions and other activities that would enhance the effective implementation of the projects in order to promote food security and sustainable agricultural production, and increase smallholder farmers’ productivity.

The newly inaugurated committees later sat and listened to presentations of the Annual Work Plan and Budgets (AWPBs) by the National Project Coordinator, NPC of the APPEALS Project, Alhaji Mohammed Sani Jobdi; NPCs of ATASP-1 and RAAMP as well as two additional projects namely, Value Chain Development Program, (VCDP) and LIFE-ND Project, both supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

The Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development is the Chairman of all the National Steering Committees of the five projects; with the APPEALS Project having 20 members, ATASP-1 has 13 members, RAAMP has 17 members, VCDP with 26 members and LIFE-ND Program has 18 members.