AfDB approves $134 million loan to boost local food production

The African Development Bank Group on Monday approved a 134 million U.S. dollar loan for the National Agriculture Growth Scheme – Agro Pocket program in Nigeria to scale up food production and boost livelihood resilience.

The program will support the fast-tracking of the implementation of key policy and institutional reforms and boost private sector participation in agriculture. This will help increase cereals and oil grains production by 7 million tonnes to 35 million tonnes. It will also increase average cereal yields from 1.42 tonnes to 2 tonnes per hectare during the September 2022-December 2023 implementation period.

The program aligns with the Bank’s African Emergency Food Production Facility and will support Nigeria’s efforts to mitigate the impacts of the war in Ukraine. Food prices have been rising rapidly due to higher volatility caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, aggravated by the war.

The program also aligns with the Bank’s efforts to promote climate-resilient agriculture and targets the vulnerable population, including youth and women.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, is projected to hit 402 million by 2050 from 206 million people in 2020, making it the third-most populous country globally. The bulk of its rural population, representing 48 percent of the populace, produces up to 90 percent of the national output.

However, inadequate support for the farmers has confined them to traditional agronomic techniques, resulting in low productivity and limited opportunities for value addition. In 2020, the harvested cereals area and yields declined by 2.75 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively.

The African Development Bank led the mobilization of 538 million U.S. dollars for the flagship Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones program to develop value chains for strategic agriculture commodities in Nigeria and transform rural areas into zones of economic prosperity.