AfDB approves $134 million loan to boost local food production in Nigeria

THE Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group today approved a $134 million loan facility for the National Agriculture Growth Scheme – Agro Pocket (NAGS – APP) program in Nigeria to increase food production and strengthen the resilience of livelihoods.

The program, the bank said, would support the acceleration of the implementation of key policy and institutional reforms, and boost private sector participation in agriculture.

A statement released and signed by the bank’s communications and external relations specialist, Emeka Ezekiel, said the loan facility would further help boost grain and oilseed production from seven million tonnes to 35 million. tons.

According to the release, the facility would further contribute to increasing average grain yields from 1.42 tons to 2 tons per hectare during the implementation period from September 2022 to December 2023.

The bank stressed that the program aligns with its African Emergency Food Production Facility and will support Nigeria’s efforts to mitigate the impact of the war in Ukraine.

Food prices have risen rapidly due to increased volatility caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and aggravated by war.

The program also aligns with the AfDB’s ten-year strategy as it promotes climate-resilient agriculture and targets the vulnerable population, including youth and women.

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The managing director of the bank’s Nigeria department, Lamin Barrow, said in the statement that the program would prioritize support for five strategic crops – maize, rice, wheat, soybeans and sorghum – with particular emphasis on supply chains. wheat value.

Barrow said the NAGS-APP is anchored on the National Agricultural Technology and Innovation Policy (NATIP) 2022-27, which aims to modernize the Nigerian agricultural sector in line with changing food systems and supply chains. global.

“The program will complement the operations supported by the Bank in the country, in particular the special agricultural special zones.

“The Bank will assist the Federal Government in establishing a sound institutional framework, including the operationalization of the National Agriculture Growth Program – Agro Pocket Program Secretariat as the administrative vehicle to oversee the implementation of the Agro Program -Pocket, the forerunner of which is the very successful e-wallet system that was rolled out in Nigeria between 2012 and 2015,” he said.

The NAGS-APP is expected to help build the resilience of agricultural livelihoods, improve farmers’ access to improved seeds and build the capacity of industry players, Barrow stressed.

AfDB Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Beth Dunford, said: “Cumping the impact of rising food and energy prices on the poor requires urgent and sustainable, such as increased public spending on agriculture.

The AfDB led the mobilization of $538 million for the Special Agro-Industrial Transformation Zones flagship program to develop value chains for strategic agricultural commodities in Nigeria and transform rural areas into zones of economic prosperity.

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Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, is expected to grow to 402 million people by 2050, up from 206 million in 2020, making it the third most populous country in the world. Most of its rural population, representing 48% of the population, produces up to 90% of national production.

However, inadequate support to farmers has confined them to traditional agronomic techniques, resulting in low productivity and limited opportunities for value addition.

In 2020, harvested cereal area and yields decreased by 2.75% and 1.5%, respectively.

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