By NBF News

The Federal Government, in collaboration with the Food and Agricultural Organisation, has inauguarated a $5.6m CountryStat programme in Nigeria as part of efforts to boost food production across the country.

CountryStat is a web-based information technology system for food and agriculture statistics at the national and sub-national levels.

It provides decision-makers unhindered access to statistics in critical areas such as food production, pricing and marketing with the goal of eradicating extreme hunger and poverty.

Speaking during the inauguration of the programme in Abuja on Thursday, the FAO Representative in Nigeria, Mr. Masayoshi Matsushita, said the organisation would continue to provide technical support to Nigeria to ensure successful implementation.

He said, 'CountryStat is part of an FAO initiative supported by a $5.6m grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to improve the quality, accessibility, relevance and reliability of food and agriculture statistics in 17 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

'Nigeria has an estimated population of 141 million, out of which 11.3 million (people) are under-nourished. CountryStat is a valuable tool in the hands of policymakers and analysts to combat hunger and poverty across the country in key areas such as production, consumption, prices and trade.'

Matsu-Shitta added, 'As part of the project, CountryStat Nigeria will disseminate data via the implementation of centralised and standardised data base framework, data exchange platform and sets of analytical tools.

'In doing so, it will facilitate planning and decision making by policymakers and analysts, particularly in the fight against hunger and poverty.'

He added, ' The grant to FAO for its CountryStat initiatives is part of the foundation's agricultural development initiative, which is working with a wide range of partners to provide millions of small farmers in the developing world with tools and opportunities to boost their yields, increase their incomes and build better lives for themselves and their families.'

Also speaking during the occasion, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Prof. Ahmed Abdullah, said, 'The CountryStat programme will boost food production in Nigeria in terms of access and quality, in the number of people that it will engage, as well as the precision with which decisions can be made.'