During the past ten years, over 600 Chinese experts and technicians have been deployed in Nigeria to share their agricultural skills with local farmers. The South-South Cooperation (SSC) programme, which has been fully funded by the Government of Nigeria and facilitated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), has benefited over one million people. The introduction of a wide range of technologies, from fish cage culture to drip irrigation, intensive poultry production to apiculture, has increased productivity and rural incomes. It is also helping the Government achieve the objectives of its Agricultural Transformation Agenda, which seeks to increase production, reduce food imports and provide millions of new jobs for young people. Nigeria has allocated significant resources from its annual budget amounting to USD 42 million in support of the first five-year phase (2003–2007) of the SSC project implementation. During this first phase a total of 496 Chinese experts and technicians were deployed to 36 states in Nigeria. Based on the achievements recorded in the first phase, the Federal Government of Nigeria approved the continuation of the programme and launched the second phase of five years in 2009 at a cost of US$ 19.6 million. The second phase has the same objective of assisting Nigeria develop its agricultural sector through the introduction of simple and low-cost Chinese agricultural technologies to farmers. Information provided by the states suggested that over one million people have been trained on the use of various technologies introduced by the SSC programme.
The SSC programme started during the Obasanjo regime, with the signature of the first Tripartite Agreement between Nigeria, China and FAO in February 2003 to launch e the first phase of the programme. The Government of Nigeria has been proactive in soliciting and coordinating exchange of knowledge through SSC and has allocated a total of USD 42.0 million from its own budget in support of the programme implementation.
The first phase had some notable successes. For example, the Chinese introduced rice-fish culture in eight states. Rice plants provide shade for fish, while the fish provide nutrients for the rice. Rice-fish culture helped to almost double rice and tilapia production at some of the demonstration sites in Nigeria and the SSC programma expanded rice-culture to 10 000 hectares, benefiting hundreds of smalhollder farmers and their families.
Based on the achievements recorded in the first phase, the Federal Government of Nigeria approved the continuation of the programme under the second phase of five years launched in 2009 at a cost of US$ 19.6 million. Within a tripartite agreement between Nigeria, China and FAO, in support of the National Programme for Food Security and the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA), this second phase supports the Government’s agriculture development objectives in irrigation and water management, fisheries, crop intensification, agro-processing, animal production and farm equipment and tools.
Nigerian achievements through SSC are mainly attributed to:
- a participatory approach based on an inclusive implementation strategy, that has seen the Government’s consistent commitment and funding support
- collaboration with states, local governments and private farmers that have demonstrated sufficient passion for agriculture
- the establishment of the Regional Multi-Service Extension Centres (REMSECs) for training and demonstration of technologies in each of the six geopolitical zones across the country
- the alignment of SSC activities to similar programmes and policies of the Government’s ATA to enhance knowledge sharing, and
- the development of synergies between SSC and donor supported agricultural and rural development programmes.
In September 2013, Ministers and heads of delegation from 12 African countries, the People’s Republic of China, Brazil, Vietnam, together with FAO and development partners have adopted the Declaration of the High Level Forum on SSC in Abuja, Nigeria. In this declaration, the countries pledged to work together on SSC, to share experiences, knowledge, technologies, best practices and capacities, as well as explore new areas and modalities of multilateral agricultural SSC.
"We in Nigeria have been implementing the SSC programme in its widest sense since 2003 and today we are proud to recall the immense contributions it has made to our agriculture with its introduction of over 200 technologies that are raising food production for our farmers, particularly in the rural areas; this has not only helped in reducing the farming drudgery of conventional farming, but also is putting money in their pockets", said the Minister of Agriculture of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr Akinwumi Adesina at the Ministerial meeting.