The World Bank has approved a $200 million credit facility to further support Nigeria, in its efforts to enhance agricultural productivity of small and medium scale farmers.
In a statement made available to journalists on Friday in Abuja, the Word Bank Country Director, Rachid Benmessaoud, said the loan was in recognition of agriculture as the key to long-term economic growth and diversification.
Benmessaoud said the credit was being financed from the International Development Association, the World Bank Group’s grant and low-interest arm.
He said it will be on standard IDA terms, with a maturity of 25 years, including a grace period of 5 years.
Benmessaoud said the project will tackle the key constraints of the Nigeria agriculture sector, such as low productivity, lack of seed funds for establishing agro-processing plants and lack of access to supportive infrastructure.
He said it will also solve the problems of low level of technology and limited access to markets.
Benmessaoud said: “The project supports the country policy thrusts on food security, local production, job creation and economic diversification.
“It also responds to the recurring issues of low productivity, limited farmers’ participation to agribusiness supply chains, and institutional realignment in the agricultural sector.
“The project will help increase agricultural productivity and production, improve processing and marketing, foster job creation, and increase household income and livelihood in participating states.”
Benmessaoud said also that the project would benefit women and youth businesses in areas such as horticulture, poultry and aquaculture.
Also, according to the statement, the World Bank Lead Agriculture Specialist, Dr. El-Hadj Toure, said 60,000 individuals will directly benefit from the programme.
Toure said 35 per cent of which will be women, and overall, about 300,000 farm household members will be indirect beneficiaries of the programme.
Toure said: “The 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 such as cocoa and cashew.”
Toure said the project will also target the enhancement of the national production of rice, maize, cassava and wheat.