Abuja - The board of directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a loan of more than US$152 million and another grant of 380 000 to finance Nigeria's Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA).
The bank confirmed the allocation of funds on Friday afternoon.
The loan has been secured under the auspices of the African Development Fund (ADF) the concessionary funding window of the AfDB.
The overall goal of the ATA, to be implemented in five years for an estimated at $175 million is to transform agriculture into a profitable business. The bank's financing will account for 87 percent of the overall costs.
ATA seeks to promote employment generation and shared wealth creation along the commodity value chains, as well as food and nutrition security.
Its specific objective is to sustainably increase the income of smallholder farmers and rural entrepreneurs engaged in the production, processing, storage and marketing of the selected commodity value chains.
According to AfDB estimates, Nigeria has a huge potential in agriculture with 84 million hectares of arable land, abundant labour, untapped water resources and a market of 167 million people.
However, less than 40 percent of the arable land is cultivated and the country has become a net importer of food, spending more than US$10 billion per annum in the importation of wheat, rice, sugar and fish.
The direct beneficiaries of include 45 300 farmers and rural entrepreneurs participating in commercial agricultural value chains in the four Processing Zones.
A further 200 000 rural youth – 40 percent of them estimated to be females – who presently lack employment opportunities in the adjourning farming communities will be especially targeted in the outreach programme.
- CAJ News