BY VICTORIA OJEME
ABUJA – The United State Agency for International Development, USAID, has in the last five years, given loan facilities worth $64.83 million to Nigerian farmers to boost agriculture in the country, as well as create 242,811 jobs
The facilities come under the auspices of the Maximising Agricultural Revenue in Key Enterprises and Target Site, MARKETS.
Timothy Prewitt, Managing Director of USAID MARKET in Nigeria, who disclosed this at a parley with newsmen in Abuja, declared that Nigeria would be self-sufficient in food production between five and ten years.
Prewitt said USAID, under the MARKET projects, partners with some financial institutions where 287,651 bank and micro-finance institutions’ loan were leveraged with 19 wholesale loans, adding that MARKET intervention in Nigeria’s agribusiness, which started in 2005 and cut across 24 states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT), had benefitted 834,132 individuals as at the end of 2010.
The projects, he said, involved eight commodities’ value chains, among which are rice, sorghum, cassava, cowpea, sesame, aquaculture, cocoa and maize.
The Market activities, according to Prewitt, generated N214,498,740 against the projected N260 million for the project life span, adding that the number of the firms assisted in the course of the activities stood at 92 against the target number of 98, while the number of people adopting new technologies or management practices was 705,446.
“As at June 30,2010 MARKETS activities had benefitted 834,132 individuals , which is below the targeted 1.2million projected for the five years life span of the project even as the number of new jobs created stood at 167,182,” Prewitt stated.