BY CHRIS OCHAYI & REGINA OTOKPA
ABUJA—Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, disclosed yesterday that the World Bank had made commitment to support the nation’s agricultural sector with N135 billion in order to boost the economy.
Dr. Adesina attributed the development to the outcome of the just concluded Agribusiness Investment Forum organised by the Nigerian Embassy in the US, in collaboration with the Corporate Council on Africa, with support from the World Bank and leading US corporations..
The minister disclosed that the United States government had completed arrangements to invest in the nation’s agricultural sector of the economy.
He explained that the World Bank, after expressing satisfaction with the agricultural transformation action plan of the country, pledged its support with N135 billion ($900 million).
Of this amount, he said N75 billion would go to agriculture, while N60 billion would be expended on irrigation.
According to him, Nigeria will also be supported in rice, cassava, sorghum and cocoa production, including the development of staple crop processing zones and restructuring of the country’s research and development system from the end of this month.
Dr. Adesina said the United States Agency for International Development, USAID, would partner the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and Ministry of Agriculture, co-sharing risks with Nigeria Incentive Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending, NIRSAL, to ensure funds for the nation’s agricultural sector.
He also said the World Cocoa Foundation would aid the training of cocoa farmers to generate sustainable cocoa production and International Food Policy Research, IFPRI will aid policy and institutional reforms technically.
He said: “The country stands a chance to undergo an economic transition through the “feed the future” initiative of President Barack Obama, targeted at supporting agriculture the world over.
“The US is supporting the economic transition of Nigeria government with the feed the future initiative to support Agriculture in the whole world. Nigeria was not among the countries selected but by the end of the meeting, Nigeria was selected as one of the key countries for the Obama’s feed the future initiative which will draw global attention to Nigeria.”
The minister while expressing worry over the attitude of Nigerians towards agriculture, noted that Nigeria was the largest producer of cassava in the world.
“But we are not taking interest in it, we just use it for Garri and Fufu” he revealed that 18 new cassava [plant will be on ground following the investment process to boost production of cassava commodities. “18 new large cassava plants to produce 1.3 metric tons of high cassava flour every year meaning; we will have enough cassava flour to produce bread.
“We are working with the cocoa foundation to see how farmers will get the new variety of cocoa which gives 5 times yield than the old variety,” he added.
On the effectiveness of the initiative, the minister noted that the ministry would carry the small holder farmers along to attract investment, adding that the the ministry was working to carry on small holder farmers along to attract investors.
He said staple crop processing will also be in certain Local Government Areas LGA with roads, power for processing as private companies will be made to go there.