The ongoing registration of cooperatives will assist the Federal Government to achieve the set targets under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda, says the Federal Department of Cooperatives.

Mr Jonathan Dangwaran, the Director of Cooperatives, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said on Tuesday in Abuja.

Dangwaran said that the department had registered more than 121,000 cooperative societies serving over 1.4 million farming families.

He said that the target under the transformation programme was to increase the number of registered cooperatives to 800,000, serving over 20 million farm families.

He said that the registration of smallholder farmers had become imperative for proper monitoring and to ease their access to financial assistance.

He said that the UN had declared 2012 as the International Year for Cooperatives, adding that plans were ongoing to celebrate the event in Nigeria.

He noted that agriculture remained the mainstay of the country's economy as it contributed more than 45 per cent to the GDP.

To this end, he said that the welfare of the smallholder farmers remained a priority to the Federal Government in order to reverse decades of poverty and rising hunger, as well as moving forward to a food secure and prosperous nation.

According to the director, the department is working hard to facilitate and create enabling environment for financial institutions to support registered agricultural cooperatives.

He said that the department had done a lot has to promote registered agricultural cooperatives to render services in the agricultural value chain, leading to the creation of jobs, market outlets and the empowerment of farmers.

The Federal Department of Cooperatives has the mandate for the promotion, registration, regulation and the provision other capacitating services to the cooperative sector.