AfDB Pledges $300m Financing Support to Youths in Agriculture


. FG to ban tomato paste from China

James Emejo in Abuja

The Country Director of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Ousmane Dore, said that the bank plans to invest $300 million to support the youth in agriculture campaign in the country.

His commitment came as the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Heineken Lokpobiri also said the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari will not resort to policy summersault but “keep reforming it” to get the best for Nigerians.

Both the minister and Dore spoke in Abuja at the opening of a two-day Empowering Novel Agri-Business Led Employment (ENABLE) Youth Design Workshop which is being championed by the AfDB in collaboration with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).

The programme aims at developing the next generation of African entrepreneurs in agriculture.

Lokpobiri’s assurance came against the backdrop of suggestions that the present administration may abandon previous agricultural policy framework of the immediate past administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.

Nevertheless, he said a new roadmap for agriculture which will cover from 2018 to 2019 would be launched a few weeks from now.

He said government was determined to provide the needed financing to encourage youths, particularly the unemployed graduates to venture into agriculture as part of its economic diversification framework to reduce dependence on oil revenue.

The minister who also expressed the regret that the country currently spends about $6 million daily on rice importation, a situation which exerts undue pressure on the foreign exchange, added that government was considering banning harmful tomato paste imported from China notwithstanding any exiting trading deal.

He noted that the country currently has adequate capacity to produce good tomato paste.

He frowned on a development whereby other countries used Nigeria as dumping ground for almost spoilt food.

Meanwhile, Director of Agriculture, AfDB, Dr. Chiji Ojukwu said the bank plans to spend $12.5 billion on agriculture in Africa within the next 10 years as well as create 1.2 million agriculture related businesses within five years.

He said the institution further targets to support 10,000 enterprises where 50 percent would be owned by women.

Ojukwu added that the bank would see to the development of the commodity exchange in the country so as to make agricultural produce marketable.