Nigeria’s agricultural sector gets AfDB and World Bank support

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) said it had committed US$ 250 million to the development of the downstream sector of agriculture in Nigeria, according to Tuesday’s account of the privately-owned This Day newspaper.

The Country Director of AfDB, Mr. Herve Assah, said he was struck by the components of the Nigerian food basket because it was “diverse”.

The AfDB commitment comes on the heels of the Nigerian government’s determination to grant subsidies to farmers in the country.

According to Assah, the AfDB fund will be used to improve processing and marketing of food.

World Bank country director, Mr. Onno Ruhl, also announced the release of US$ 30 million for Fadama III, which should commence 1 July.

He said that he saw “an opportunity” for the Nigerian farmer in the current world food crisis, and called the Nigerian food agenda “a rational response” to the situation.

Nigerian Agriculture and Water Resources Minister Abba Sayyadi Ruma said the green revolution which is being pursued by President Umaru Yar’Adua’s administration would not succeed without a proper financial infrastructure, including subsidy, to drive it.

The goals of the new programme include making the sector competitive and involving youths and the private sector.

Ruma spoke at a dinner to kick off an emergency meeting of the National Council on Agriculture in Abuja.

The meeting, the second since Yar’Adua came to power a year ago, is to look at, and finalise the draft national food security programme, prepared and launched last month by the agriculture ministry.

Ruma said that the World Bank preaches against financial assistance to farmers, but “no World Bank language can say agricultural subsidy” is not needed in Nigeria.

According to him, no serious nation can afford not to subsidise agriculture. “Agriculture must be subsidised,” the minister added.

The World Bank estimates that rich countries spend US$ 280 billion on subsidy a year — the European Union spends US$ 134 billion, Japan US$ 47 billion and the U S US$ 43 billion a year as government handouts.

According to AfDB, the figures are more than three times the level of 2005 global overseas aid to developing countries.

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