W’Bank Approves $200m Credit to Nigeria to Boost Agro-processing

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World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Rachid Benmessaoud
  •  As FAO, Africa Rice Centre support community-based rice farmers

Abimbola Akosile and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The World Bank has approved a sum of $200 million credit to further support Nigeria in its efforts to enhance agricultural productivity of small and medium scale farmers in participating states.

World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Rachid Benmessaoud said the credit was being financed by the International Development Association (IDA), an arm of the World Bank that grants low-interest loan, with a maturity of 25 years, including a grace period of 5 years.

‎This was contained in a statement released in Abuja recently by the World Bank Senior Communication Officer in Nigeria, Ms. Olufunke Olufon.

Benmessaoud said that the project would help increase agricultural productivity and production, improve processing and marketing, foster job creation, and also help increase household income and livelihood in participating states.

He added that the project would also tackle key constraints of the agriculture sector, such as low productivity, lack of seed funds for establishing agro -processing plants, lack of access to supportive infrastructure, and low level of technology adoption and limited access to markets.

“Agriculture is key to long-term economic growth and diversification. The project supports the country policy thrusts on food security, local production, job creation and economic diversification. It responds to recurring issues of low productivity, limited farmers’ participation to agribusiness supply chains, and institutional realignment in the agricultural sector,” he said.

Benmessaoud emphasised that the project would benefit women and youth businesses such as horticulture, poultry and aquaculture‎. “The number of project’s direct beneficiaries is 60,000 individuals, 35 per cent of which will be women. Overall, about 300,000 farm household members are indirect beneficiaries,” he noted.

 ‎The Lead Agriculture Specialist at the World Bank‎, El Hadj Adama Toure said “priority value chains under the project will include products with potential for immediate improvement of food security, products with a potential for export and foreign currency earnings (cocoa and cashew) and enhancement of the national production of crops including rice, maize, cassava and wheat.”

Meanwhile, as part of efforts to boost rice production in the country, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and Côte d’Ivoire-based Africa Rice Centre (AfricaRice) have commenced the training of 300 farmers across Nigeria in paddy production technology.

The exercise involves strengthening the capacities of community-based rice farmers and rice seed producers for production of quality rice seed of improved variety. The trainees include youths and women.

“Seed mixtures and lack of good quality rice seeds are major constraints to rice production in Nigeria. The quality of breeder seed is poor and the quantity available is inadequate to support foundation and certified seed production. FAO is therefore partnering AfricaRice to train seed producers in rice seed and paddy production technology, produce and distribute training manuals on rice seed production technology, and set up demonstration plots to showcase production technologies including land preparation”, said FAO Deputy Representative to Nigeria, Nourou Macki.

The training is being conducted under the Partnership for Sustainable Rice Systems Development in sub-Saharan Africa agreement between FAO and AfricaRice. It will build national capacity, enhance sustainable development of the rice food chain among smallholder farmers and contribute to increase food security in the country.

It will facilitate the emergence of efficient rice production systems for Nigeria supported through the promotion of adoption of best practices and upscaling of proven and tested technologies.

Six states including Ekiti, Edo, Anambra, Abia, Nasarawa and Jigawa have been selected for the project. Fifty participants will benefit from the training in each state, along with establishment of demonstration plots and backstopping mission.

Macki reiterated that “The goal is to ensure that Nigeria attains self-sufficiency in rice production through access and availability of good quality seed of released rice varieties.”

Speaking at one of the training sessions in Anambra, representative of Africa Rice, Oyetunji Olumoye, observed that many seed producers lack basic knowledge on production of quality rice seeds.

“Food insecurity is a big challenge in Nigeria. Seed mixtures and lack of good quality rice seeds is a common phenomenon and major constraint to rice production in Nigeria. Farmers do not have enough quantity of rice seed for production. The little they have contain impurity and mixtures,” he explained.

“The overall objective of the training program is to enhance farmers’ access to quality rice seed and also make quality paddy available to millers and processors in the selected states. The trainees will continue to be monitored throughout the period of planting to crop maturity,” said Andrew Ikhadeunu, National Coordinator of the project.