By Daniel Essiet and Evelyn Osagie
The United States’ Agency for International Development (USAID) in Nigeria has launched a COVID-19 Food Security Challenge that will provide $3 million in grant funding and technical assistance to youth-led and mid-stage firms working in food value chains across the country.
A statement from USAID noted that the decision was based on the fact that Nigeria was experiencing food insecurity compounded by the global pandemic and its effects on the food value chain in the country. The pandemic has disrupted already fragile agricultural value chains, especially smallholder farmers’ ability to produce, process, and distribute food. This disrupts agricultural productivity and markets, and negatively impacts livelihoods, especially among vulnerable households, women, and youth.
“We are launching the COVID-19 Food Security Challenge to help innovative Nigerians alleviate food insecurity,” USAID Mission Director Anne Patterson said.
She added: “This assistance encourages private sector-led solutions to boost food production, processing, and create market linkage along the agriculture value chain in a sustainable way across Nigeria.”
In launching the Challenge, USAID seeks commercially viable youth-led and mid-stage companies already working in food production, processing, and distribution. Successful applicants will present ideas that demonstrably help farmers and other stakeholders in the agricultural value chain increase agricultural productivity and food security within the next six months.
The Challenge will award 15 to 25 youth-led companies up to $75,000 each and award 10 to15 mid-stage companies up to $150,000 each. Winners will receive funding and technical assistance to rapidly expand their activities to mitigate the effect of COVID-19 on Nigeria’s food value chain and improve the resilience of vulnerable households to the negative impacts of the pandemic.
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