May 6, 2013

World Bank, IFAB pledge $1.9bn to boost agriculture in Nigeria

The World Bank has said that it would commit one billion dollars to support Nigeria’s agricultural sector in the next five years. Ms Marie-Francoise Marie- Nelly, its Country Director, said this at a workshop on Gender and Agriculture Technical Dialogue in Abuja.

Also the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) said that it would support the Federal Government’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) with new programmes that would cost $88.5 million. President of IFAD, Dr Kanayo Nwanze, said this in Abuja when he led a delegation on a visit to Dr Akinwumi Adesina, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.

“I am very delighted with the conversations that we have just had and your assurances of progress in the Transformation Agenda and the value chain development programme that IFAD has already committed some funds to, the possibility of developing a new programme idea in the current cycle of 2013 to 2015 where IFAD has committed $88.5 million  to support the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Transformation Agenda.”Agric-plaintain

Ms Marie-Francoise Marie- Nelly World Bank Representative in Nigeria said “The World Bank is strongly engaged in Agriculture, we are planning to commit almost one billion dollars in the next three to five years in agriculture. Not only on this aspect of strengthening the capacity of women but also in strengthening the tools of  production; and one area that I want to strengthen is irrigation. We intend to help rehabilitate a number of these irrigation schemes, to have large irrigation land for farmers and we hope that in doing so, we are not going to forget the women. ”

She said that the gesture was part of the outcome of the bank’s house hold survey on the impact of agriculture in the country’s rural areas. According to her, the gesture is also in line with the Federal Government Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA), adding that the Bank would support the programme for its role in the economy. “We at the World Bank strongly support this programme (ATA) because it is widely recognised both in Africa and in the world; that improving agriculture translates to reduction of poverty.

“ Agriculture plays a big role in Nigeria’s economy, it employs the 70 per cent of the labour force and 40 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product.” Marie-Nelly called for policies that would help to empower and support women farmers in the country.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural development, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, said that women accounted for 75 per cent of farming population in Nigeria, both as farm managers, primary owners and suppliers of labour.

He stressed the need to invest more on women farmers and ensure that efforts were geared towards removing all constraints that hindered production for women farmers. “Without women, there will be no food; therefore, we must ensure we remove all constraints that limit ability to raise their farm productivity and incomes. If we invest in women farmers, we invest in the nation and we invest in our children, women will secure our food supply, they will secure our nation.”

The minister, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mrs Ibukun Odusote, identified the critical areas that needed improvement in the sector to include women  access to finance; access to lands; insecurity of the tenure; and access to inputs.

Adesina said that the ministry in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria would soon roll out a new credit facility for agro-based businesses, adding that special preference would be given to women. He said that government would recapitalise the Bank of Agriculture and create a special credit facility for women.

He said efforts were also being made to improve access to land for women, reduce the cost of registering land and review the land inheritance law. The minister said that his ministry had projected that about one million women would benefit from its various strategies to boost the agriculture sector.

According President of IFAD, Dr Kanayo Nwanze, the new programme will be within the strategies and priorities of the Federal Government. He said that the fund would continue to maintain its focus on poor rural populations in developing countries, adding that it had undertaken a series of impact evaluations in 30 countries worldwide to assess the impact the institution’s investments had made in reducing poverty in the last 35 years. He said the assessment was an extensive exercise that would take at least three years to complete.

Nwanze said that the fund had resolved that within the three-year period, it would contribute significantly to moving 80 million people out of poverty.

He, therefore, urged the Federal Government to provide the fund with information and data to support the project.