The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Nigeria says it has launched a COVID-19 Food Security Challenge for three million dollars in grant and technical assistance to address food insecurity.
The USAID Mission Director, Dr Anne Patterson, in a statement on Monday in Awka, stated that the gesture would be given to youth-led and mid-stage companies working in food value chains in Nigeria.
The statement also stated that Nigeria was experiencing food insecurity compounded by the COVID-19 global pandemic and its effects on the food value chain in the country.
It stated that the pandemic had disrupted already fragile agricultural value chains, especially smallholder farmers’ ability to produce, process and distribute food.
According to the statement, the pandemic disrupted 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 to check food insecurity.
“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.
“USAID seeks commercially viable youth-led and mid-stage companies already working in food production, processing and distribution to participate in the challenge,” it stated.
Patterson also stated that successful applicants would present ideas that demonstrably helped farmers and other stakeholders in the agricultural value chain to increase agricultural productivity and food security within the next six months.
She stated that the initiative would award 15 to 25 youth-led companies up to 75,000 dollars each and 10 to 15 mid-stage companies up to 150,000 dollars 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,” the statement added.
It further announced that application for the grant would be open from April 12 to May 9.