Friday, April 12, 2024

AfDB Approves $134 Million Loan for Nigeria’s Agro Pocket Program

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group has approved a $134 million loan for the National Agriculture Growth Scheme—Agro Pocket program in Nigeria, to support Nigeria in tackling the rise in food prices caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, aggravated by the war in Ukraine.

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group has approved a $134 million loan for the National Agriculture Growth Scheme—Agro Pocket program in Nigeria, to support Nigeria in tackling the rise in food prices caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, aggravated by the war in Ukraine.

The Director General of the Bank’s Nigeria Country Department, Lamin Barrow, disclosed that the Agro Pocket program will help to increase cereals and oil grain production by prioritizing support for five strategic crops: maize, rice, wheat, soya beans, and sorghum, with a special focus on wheat value chains.

The program aligns with both the Ten-Year Strategy of the bank and the bank’s African Emergency Food Production Facility and will support fast-tracking of the implementation of key policy and institutional reforms and boost private sector participation in agriculture.

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This will help increase cereal and oil-grain production from 7 million tonnes to 35 million tonnes, and also increase average cereal yields from 1.42 tonnes to 2 tonnes per hectare during the September 2022–December 2023 implementation period.

According to Barrow, the National Agriculture Growth Scheme—Agro Pocket program is anchored in the National Agriculture Technology and Innovation Policy (2022-27), which aims to modernize Nigeria’s agriculture sector in line with changing global food systems and supply chains.

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He assured that the bank will support the Federal Government in putting in place a robust institutional framework, including the operationalization of the program secretariat as the administrative vehicle to oversee the implementation of the scheme.

The Bank’s Vice President, Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Beth Dunford, noted that urgent and sustainable policies, such as increased public expenditure on agriculture, are required to cushion the poor from the effects of higher food, and energy costs.

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