The World Bank has approved a $200 million loan to Nigeria to support the federal government’s effort to boost agriculture.
According to Premium Times, the loan from the International Development Association, World Bank’s low-interest arm, has a maturity of 25 years with a grace period of five years is to support small and mid-scale farmers.
The bank, in a statement on Friday, March 24, said about 60,000 individuals will benefit directly from the funding, of which 35 % are women.
Similarly, about 300,000 farming households will be affected indirectly.
In its statement, the World bank said, “Priority value chains … will include products with potential for immediate improvement of food security, products with a potential for export and foreign currency earnings.”
The funds will help tackle low yields, lack of seed capital to set up agro-factories, low-level adoption of technology and limited access to markets, the bank said.
Records show that Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, spends $20 billion a year importing food. With the fall in oil prices, it has been running short of dollars, which has also weakened the local currency, the Naira.
In February, the Nigerian government unveiled an economic recovery plan, tagged Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP, which included currency reforms to boost tax revenues.
The ERGP, among other objectives, also aims to achieve self-sufficiency in rice by 2018 and in wheat by 2019 or 2020. By the latter date, it also hopes to be a net exporter of rice, cashew nuts, groundnuts, cassava and vegetable oil, some of the crops the World Bank loan is meant to finance.
We recalls that the World Bank had declared that Nigeria’s economic recession will no longer last as the country is gradually recovering.
Mrs Eme Essien-Lore, the country manager in charge of International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank group, made the observation in an interview in Lagos on Thursday, March 16.
According to her, Nigeria is growing very fast and will soon become the third largest country globally, after India and China.