AfDB to support Nigeria’s Agric with $800 million – Adesina

Ebun Francis

The President, African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, African Development Bank(AFDB) today in Abuja said  the bank has concluded plans to launch $800 million scheme to support the agriculture sector. Adesina spoke at the opening of the African Economic Conference (ACE) organised by the bank in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in Abuja. According to him, the initiative called the Technology for African Agriculture Transformation (TAAT) was part of efforts designed to encourage technological innovation in the sector.

The AFDB president disclosed that the scheme when implemented would reach 40 million farmers in one year.He further stated that another $24 billion would be used to support Nigeria’s agriculture sector to fight hunger and post-harvest loses.

In the words of Adesina: “To take new agricultural technologies to scale, we are launching $800m initiative known as TAAT. It has a goal of reaching over 40 million farmers in 10 years. We must equally reduce the food system losses along the value-chain from the farm, transport, storage, processing and marketing.”

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The immediate past Nigeria’s Agricultuer minister identified poor infrastructure and access to finance as major challenges, stressing that it became imperative to develop the Staple Crops Processing Zones (SCPZ) and called on African countries to invest in the SCPZ in order to create jobs.

According to him, “It is important to seek innovative approach to solving finance challenges. When I was the Nigerian agriculture minister, we started NIRSAL which increased lending to farmers by six per cent.

“To drive agro-industrialisation, the role of finance is key so we are investing $24 billion into agriculture in the next 20 years.”

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh in his remarks at the event, refuted claims that the nation would face famine by 2017. He assured that the Federal Government already have plans in place to support dry-season farming that would discourage the presumed food shortage.

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According to the minister, “The threat of famine-I think that is a bit of an exaggeration. No danger of famine now. We are doing far better than we did a decade ago. But there is some panic. People are buying and storing. Our neighbours in the West, North and Central Africa are buying, they have always bought. So this is a challenge I am happy about.

“It says to the farmer, there is a market for your produce. So we are not going to face famine. Government will make sure it doesn’t happen. The GES scheme is working.”

Ogbe’s advise to Nigerians in this period of recession is, “stop buying rice. Eat what you produce, produce what you eat. We have water, irrigation, capacity so we should go into farming. We don’t have business importing foods.”