Photograph — Architect Magazine

Heifer International has announced the appointment of Rufus Idris as its new Country Director for its Nigeria operations. Idris assumed his duties in June 2021 and has already begun to operationalize Heifer International’s global mission and strategy in Africa’s largest and most populous economy.

A citizen of Nigeria, Idris is a seasoned development specialist with cross-cultural experience spanning over 17 years, during which he developed and led innovative economic development programs in Nigeria and the United States. As Country Director for Heifer Nigeria, he will provide the leadership and strategic focus required to develop and leverage public-private partnerships, implementing market-driven programs that addresses the systemic constraints and stimulating lasting market systems improvements for farmers to attain sustainable living incomes.

Before joining Heifer International, Idris served as Deputy Chief of Party for the USAID Feed the Future Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity, a five-year program aimed at strengthening the enabling environment for agribusiness finance and investment in five key value chains (rice, cowpea, soy, maize and aquaculture) and seven focal Nigerian states (Benue, Kaduna, Niger, Kebbi, Delta, Ebonyi and Cross River).

He was the Program Director for the UK Department for International Development (DFID) funded program “Promoting Learning in Agribusiness using New Technologies (PLANT)” where he led TechnoServe’s collaboration with DFID and the British Council to develop a more competitive agriculture sector in Nigeria by increasing innovation and uptake of technology within the sector. He was also the Portfolio Manager for a DFID-funded – Market Development (MADE) Program in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria implemented by Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI).

“Rufus’s proven capacity as an administrator, mobiliser and excellent team player will serve him well in his new role as Country Director for Heifer Nigeria,” said Adesuwa Ifedi, Senior Vice President for Africa Programs at Heifer International. “His appointment will deepen Heifer’s interventions and support for Nigeria’s food systems resilience and sustainability agenda. I trust that he will provide the much-needed operational acumen required for Heifer International’s transformational journey in the years ahead.”

Heifer’s vision for 2020 to 2030 is a focused approach for the African Continent to support additional three million smallholder farmers reach a sustainable living income. As a part of this commitment, Heifer has extended its operations to Nigeria to assist more than one million farmers (largely young men and women) to reach a sustainable living income by 2030, through strategic private and public sector partnerships, unlocking demand and market opportunities, leveraging finance across priority value chains, and leveraging innovation and emerging agricultural technologies to reach transformational scale.

Rufus Idris

On his appointment, Idris said: “I am excited to join Heifer International as the Nigeria Country Director and to lead its innovative and inclusive in-country programs to end hunger and poverty, leveraging the creativity of our young women and men, new technologies, and strong public-private partnerships to unlock Nigeria’s potential for food sufficiency and sustainable living income”.

Idris holds a Master of Science in Community Economic Development from Southern New Hampshire University (Manchester, NH), Executive Education in Performance Measurement for Effective Management of Non-profit Organizations from Harvard University (Cambridge, MA), Bachelors degree in Biology from La Roche University (Pittsburgh, PA), and a Diploma in Fisheries Technology from Federal College of Fisheries and Marine Technology (Lagos, Nigeria).

Working with rural communities across Africa for 47 years, Heifer International supports farmers and local food producers to strengthen local economies and build secure livelihoods that provide a sustainable living income. The organization is repositioning its work in Africa to invest in infrastructure, young agritech entrepreneurs, and smallholder farmers to support the transformation of the continent’s agricultural sector.

The organization’s track record makes it an ideal partner for galvanizing the technology utilization, innovation and public-private partnerships needed to spur the emerging generation of Nigerian youth entrepreneurs into considering careers in the agriculture sector.

More than half of the continent’s rural population is employed in the agriculture sector. Young people under the age of 25 accounts for approximately 60% of Africa’s population and a large share of the 1.8 billion people around the world who are between the ages of 10 to 24 years old, according to the United Nations.

“Their home-grown innovation will help accelerate the strategic transition to sustainable, profitable farming and agribusinesses across Africa,” Idris remarked recently in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, at the pre-event roundtable launch of the 2021 African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) which took place between 5 – 10 September 2021 in Nairobi, Kenya under the theme “Pathways to recovery and resilient food systems.”

Heifer International used the occasion of the hybrid 2021 AGRF event to announce that two African agribusinesses – Hello Tractor and ColdHubs – had won its inaugural Africa, Youth and Technology (AYuTe) Challenge, securing a combined $1.5 million in grant funding to help fund their rapid expansion plans.

Hello Tractor, a Kenyan firm known as the “Uber of tractors” is making obtaining a tractor as easy as booking the ride-hailing service. Nigerian firm ColdHubs provides solar-powered, walk-in coolers for smallholder vegetable farmers to keep their produce fresh.

About Heifer International

For 77 years, Heifer International has worked with more than 36 million people around the world to end hunger and poverty in a sustainable way. Working with rural communities in 21 countries in Africa, Asia, and the Americas, including the United States, Heifer International supports farmers and local food producers to strengthen local economies and build secure livelihoods that provide a living income.

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