A programme within Nigeria’s National Agriculture Grow Scheme has now secured a USD$134 million loan to boost food production. The money, provided by the African Development Bank (AfDB), will go to the Agro Pocket programme and will also be used to boost “livelihood resilience”.
“The programme will support fast-tracking of the implementation of key policy and institutional reforms and boost private sector participation in agriculture. This will help increase cereals and oil grains production by 7 million tonnes to 35 million tonnes. It will also increase average cereal yields from 1.42 tonnes to 2 tonnes per hectare during the September 2022-December 2023 implementation period,” the bank said via a statement.
Women and young people targeted
The programme supports Nigeria’s efforts to decrease the negative impacts of the war in Ukraine and is in line with the Bank’s African Emergency Food Production Facility. Due to increased instability brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic – exacerbated by the conflict – food prices have been rising quickly. The initiative supports climate-resilient agriculture and targets the vulnerable population, especially women and young people, in line with the bank’s Ten-Year Strategy.
Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, is expected to have a population of 402 million by 2050, up from 206 million in 2020, making it the third-most populated country in the world. Up to 90% of the country’s output is produced by the majority of its rural residents, who make up 48% of the total population.
The AfDB is offering support to the country’s federal government by curating an institutional framework that will kick up the National Agriculture Growth Scheme’s operation. Up until this point, however, farmers have been given inadequate support, resulting in lower productivity and few opportunities for value addition.
“In 2020, the harvested cereals area and yields declined by 2.75% and 1.5%, respectively,” the bank said.
Special focus on wheat
The initiative would support five critical crops, including maize, rice, wheat, soy beans, and sorghum, with a special focus on wheat value chains, according to Lamin Barrow, Director General of the Bank’s Nigeria Country Department.
Barrow adds the National Agricultural Technology and Innovation Policy (2022-27), which intends to modernise Nigeria’s agriculture industry in pace with shifting global food systems and supply chains, is the foundation of the National Agriculture Growth Scheme-Agro Pocket initiative. The initiative will support activities in the nation that are sponsored by the AfDB, particularly in the agricultural special zones.
“The bank will support the federal government to put in place a robust institutional framework, including operationalisation of the National Agriculture Growth Scheme – Agro Pocket program Secretariat as the administrative vehicle to oversee the implementation of the Agro-Pocket Scheme, whose precursor is the highly successful e-wallet scheme that was rolled out in Nigeria between 2012 and 2015,” he said.