British American Tobacco Foundation has empowered at least 1,000 farmers in Ogun State through its Maize Empowerment project.

In a statement, the foundation noted that the project, which was in partnership with the Ogun State Ministry of Agriculture, was aimed to equip approximately 1,000 maize farmers with the necessary knowledge and skills to enhance productivity, profitability, and sustainability within the maize value chain.

It stated, “Since its inception in 2002, BATNF has been in the vanguard of empowering smallholder farmers, particularly in the areas of crop production, entrepreneurship, and environmental sustainability. Its projects aim to enhance agricultural productivity, improve livelihoods, and promote social and economic development in rural communities across Nigeria.

“Through partnerships with government agencies such as the Ogun State Ministry of Agriculture, BATNF implements a variety of programs and initiatives tailored to address the distinct needs of farmers and rural residents.”

Speaking at the event, the Ogun State Commissioner for Agriculture, Bolu Owotomo, noted that the project was geared towards promoting food security and improving the livelihood of farmers in the state.

He said, “Through the Maize Empowerment project, the BATN Foundation has trained 1,000 farmers in best agricultural practices and today we are witnessing the distribution of farm inputs and pesticides to 500 for this year’s planting season to ensure a bountiful harvest”.

On his part, the General Manager of BATNF, Oludare Odusanya, stated that the collaborative effort between the BATN Foundation and the Ogun State Ministry of Agriculture was aimed at enhancing the capabilities of maize farmers in the state.

He noted, “This maize project is specifically aimed towards ensuring inclusivity and equitable distribution of resources, thereby focusing on empowering women and youths to enhance their knowledge, skills, and resources for increased productivity, profitability, and sustainability within the maize value chain across the state’s agricultural zones.”

Odusanya further emphasised that the objective of the BATN Foundation was improving the technical know-how of the farmers, fostering innovation, promoting sustainable practices, and facilitating access to profitable markets.

While acknowledging the impact the project had on the maize farmers in the state, Odusanya mentioned that the BATN Foundation had invested over N4bn towards supporting rural smallholder farmers and impacted over 1.7 million beneficiaries across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT since its inception in 2002.

He said, “This project addresses critical challenges in the maize value chain, including low crop yields, limited access to improved seeds and fertilizers, inefficient pest and disease management, poor pest-harvest handling, and lack of access to profitable markets.”