Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Finance Minister
Ndubuisi Francis and Yemi Akinsuyi
The Federal Government Thursday secured a total of N28.752 billion ($179.7 million) from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) as financing support for the agriculture sector of the economy
The government signed an agreement with IFAD for a grant of $105.2 million (N16.832 billion) to finance its agricultural transformation agenda.
Specifically, the agreement will enable IFAD to provide finance for the next six years for specific projects that will boost the agricultural value chain.
Similarly, efforts to boost rice and cassava production was also given further impetus yesterday as the federal government secured a $74.5 million (N11.920 billion) loan from IFAD to pursue the value-chain development programme of the two crops in six states in the next six years.
The six states to benefit from this programme include Ebonyi, Anambra, Ogun, Taraba, Benue, and Niger.
The Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, signed on behalf of the government while the IFAD President, Dr. Kanayo Nwanze, signed on behalf of IFAD.
The agreement was witnessed by top government officials including the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, the Minister of State for Finance, Dr. Yerima Ngama, and other senior officials of IFAD.
Explaining the significant of the agreement, Okonjo-Iweala said the IFAD credit would be beneficial to the country as it would help create jobs and help the country to be self-sufficient in food production.
She said the IFAD credit of $74million attracts zero interest rate and a repayment period of 40 years as well as a grant of $0.5m.
The minister explained that the federal government, states and local governments would contribute counterpart funds to the tune of $31.2 million.
According to her, “We are signing this credit to underscore the importance of IFAD’s commitment to the development of agriculture in this country and it also demonstrates that our relationship with IFAD is yielding benefits to this country.
“The IFAD partnership development programme which is what we are flagging off today is valued at $105.2 million which comprises of an IFAD credit of $74 million and a grant of $0.5million
“The credit is on soft terms and the FG, states and councils will provide counterpart contribution to the tune of $31.2 million. This project will be implemented over a period of six years and there is no doubt that it will be a strong contributor to the very important plan for agriculture sector.
“The IFAD credit is one of the most beneficial because there are no interest, 0.75 per cent commitment charge and 40 years repayment period and so it is really a very great credit for the country to access.”
On his part, Adesina said: “IFAD is working very closely with us and they are supporting us in rice and cassava production. The programme will target 40,000 households in six states and it will help us to strengthen agriculture value chain, improve market infrastructure particularly feeder roads between production centres to the markets and enhance productivity of farmers.”
Explaining IFAD’s portfolio in Nigeria, Nwanze said IFAD had financed nine project valued at $225 million.
He noted that currently, Nigeria received 40 per cent of total loans given to the West and Central African countries.
He said: “The funding for this project was approved in April this year. We have financed a total of nine projects valued at $229 million and currently, Nigeria receives about 40 per cent of total loans to West and Central Africa comprising of 21 countries and this shows how important Nigeria is to the continent.”