The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is the largest private foundation in the world, founded by Bill Gates has disclosed that it is funding six agricultural commodities value chains with emphasis on rice and yam production to ensure food sufficient in Nigeria.
According to Vanguard report, Dr Audu Grema, the Senior Programme Officer, Agriculture in the West African Office of the Foundation, revealed this in Abuja on Tuesday.
He listed some agricultural projects of the foundation to include CARI-Project (rice) which was aimed at improving rice production productivity, pest control, and variety enhancement.
Grema expressed optimism that Nigeria would soon be self sufficient in rice production. Stating that the rice project by the foundation was currently being implemented in Cross River, Niger, Kebbi, Jigawa, Kano, Plateau and Edo, Ebonyi States.
The programme officer, however, said that the Cassava Value Addition Project (CAVA) was based in Abeokuta at the University of Agriculture.
According to him, There is also a big yam project ongoing at private farms around Abuja, Kaduna, Niger, Ibadan, Abeokuta, Akure to enhance yam propagation technology through seeds.
“We have a huge portfolio of agricultural investments in Nigeria. We are work on maize, rice, yam, cassava and crop-livestock interface.
He further explained that the foundation was also working in public health, integrated vaccine delivery, routine immunisation revival across many states.
On the reports that Gates was a major propagator of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), the programme officer refuted the assertion, saying that the Bill Gates had no connection with GMOs.
According to him, Bill Gates has no interest to promote agribusiness, so we are denying that we did not bring GMOs into Nigeria.
“Bill and Melinda Gates are not farmers; they are not into agricultural services; so, to think they will promote GMOs just to promote their businesses interest is very wrong.
“I will be in complete denial that we have nothing to do with these big commercial agricultural farms that have been cited in some of the articles in Nigeria.
The programme officer assured that the foundation would align its programmes with that of the Federal Government to enable the country achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The foundation with headquarter based in Seattle, Washington has its primary aim of enhancing healthcare and reduce extreme poverty.