World Bank approves $300 million to boost Nigeria agricultural output & food security

The World Bank said it has approved credit facilities of $300 million for Nigeria to boost agricultural output and food security.

According to the World Bank, $200 million loan will go to small-holder farmers organised in clusters in six states for producers of rice, cassava, sorghum and other staples, while another $100 million will be used to improve crop yields, promote market access and better management.

Nigeria is the world’s second-largest importer of rice and sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest wheat and sugar buyer. President Goodluck Jonathan’s government plans to stop rice imports, which cost the country N1 billion per day, by 2015.

Agriculture Minister Akinwunmi Adesina had earlier said the country was expecting $1 billion in support from the World Bank, with $500 in agriculture and $500 for expanding the country’s irrigation capacity.

Adeshina disclosed that Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, had attracted agricultural investment worth more than $8 billion in the past 18 months, yet, only 40 per cent of its 21 million hectares (51.9 million acres) of arable land is cultivated. Agriculture employs 70 per cent of Nigeria’s population, Marie-Francoise Marie-Nelly, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, said in the statement.

The credit will be provided under the International Development Association’s terms for helping poor countries, according to the statement. As of 2010, more than 60 percent of the country’s population of more than 160 million people lived on less than $1 a day, up from 51.6 per cent in 2004, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

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