The bank said in a statement that was issued by its communication head, Kwasi Kpodo. “This will help increase cereals and oil grains production by 7 million tones to 35 million tones. It will also increase average cereal yields from 1.42 tones to two tones per hectare during the September 2022-December 2023 implementation period.”
Kpodo said the program aligns with the bank’s African emergency food production facility and will support Nigeria’s efforts to lessen 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 10-year strategy as it promotes 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 per cent of the populace, produces up to 90 per cent 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 per cent and 1.5 per cent, respectively.
Director-general of the bank’s Nigeria country department, Lamin Barrow said the program would prioritize support for five strategic crops: maize, rice, wheat, soya beans and sorghum, with a particular focus on wheat value chains.
He said, “The Bank will support the federal government to put in place a robust institutional framework, including operationalization of the National Agriculture Growth Scheme – Agro Pocket program secretariat as the administrative vehicle to oversee the implementation of the Agro-Pocket Scheme, whose precursor is the highly successful e-wallet scheme that was rolled out in Nigeria between 2012 and 2015.”
Barrow emphasized that the National Agriculture Growth Scheme – Agro Pocket program would help build the resilience of farming livelihoods, enhance farmers’ access to improved seeds, and strengthen the capacity of industry stakeholders,
Beth Dunford, the Bank’s Vice President, Agriculture, Human and Social Development, said: “Cushioning the poor from the effects of higher food, and energy costs, requires urgent and sustainable policy, such as increased public expenditure on agriculture.”