Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi okonjo-Iweala
The Federal Government’s effort to boost rice and cassava production was given further impetus Thursday when it secured a $74.5 million loan facility of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to pursue the value chain development programme of the two products in six states of the federation in the next six years.
States to benefit from this include Ebonyi , Anambra, Ogun, Taraba, Benue, and Niger.
IFAD President, Dr Kanayo Nwanze, who unfolded the package during a visit to the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi okonjo-Iweala in Abuja, noted that agriculture contributes about 40 per of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
In recognition of the efforts of the Federal Government.
Nwanze said the IFAD executive board resolved to support the transformation agenda with a loan facility of $74.5 million to implement the value chain development programme for rice and cassava in the six states for the next six years.
The Federal Government’s transformation agenda, the IFAD boss pointed out, is aimed at reducing youth unemployment, increasing household income and improving the contributions of agriculture to the overall national GDP.
“But what is fascinating is that in the last couple of years, Nigerian GDP has been growing at tremendous rate of about seven per cent. Now that is not due to oil. It is due to other sectors of which agriculture is one of them and that has something to tell us.
Nwanze stated that IFAD is targeting small scale farmers, who contribute about 1.5 hectares, adding that the category of farmers form 70 per cent, and mostly populated by women.
Earlier, Okonjo-Iweala had hinted that the beneficiaries of the loan are the Federal Government, states and local governments and who will provide counterpart fund to the tune of $31.2 million.
“This project will be implemented over a period of six years and I have no doubt that it will be a strong contributor to the important plank to the agriculture sector as the Ministry of Agriculture has set out,” she said.
The loan, the minister added, has a 40-year repayment period and a ten-year moratorium as well as a 0.5 per cent commitment charge with zero interest.
“So, it is really a very great credit for the country to be able to access. I think very soon it will be difficult accessing these terms. So, this is a very good time for us to benefit from this, especially to help create jobs in the agricultural sector. So far, the fund has committed a credit facility of about $157.3 million in Nigeria . And there is a signing of a credit that underscores the continuation of IFAD’s commitment to agriculture, rural development, food security in this country.
“And it also demonstrates our relationship with IFAD is yielding fruits and our support for IFAD is yielding very tangible efforts. The IFAD/Nigeria partnership chain development programme which is what we are fagging off today, is valued at $105.2 million which comprises $74 million and a grant of $0.5 million. The credit is of course on soft terms. And the Federal Government, state and councils will provide counterpart fund contributions to the tune of $31.2 million,” she said.
The Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Adewunmi Adesina, who was part of the occasion noted that the nation had done quite well in one year, adding that in one year, there have been 12 rice mills and 18 large scale high quality cassava flour plants capable of milling 1.3 million metric tons of high quality cassava flower.
“And I am happy to inform you that they are working and in the last one year alone, 12 rice mills have sprung up in the country with a total capacity of 230,000 metric tons as a result of those fiscal measures. And they have been doing high quality, long grain parboiled rice.
“On the cassava, we have been doing very well. Again with the support of the Co-ordinating Minister we have been able to negotiate with China to have access to financing to import 100 large scale integrated rice mill that will mill 2.1 million metric tons of rice. And also 18 large scale high quality cassava flower plants that will mill 1.3 million metric tons of high quality cassava flower,” Adesina said.