The Federal Government has announced it secured a $134 million loan from the African Development Bank to boost wheat production. The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Muhammad Mahmoud, disclosed this in Abuja, on Thursday while speaking on the implementation of the presidential mandate given to the ministry.
Mahmoud had blamed the Russian invasion of Ukraine for the acute scarcity of wheat. He revealed that with 250,000 farmers cultivating 250,000 hectares in the 2022 dry season, the initiative would raise wheat production to 750,000 metric tonnes.
He said the wheat would be cultivated in Jigawa, Kebbi, Kano, Bauchi, Katsina, Kaduna, Sokoto, Zamfara, Gombe, Plateau, Borno, and Yobe, Adamawa, and Taraba states.
He added that the Federal Government had deployed 5,000 agro rangers drawn from the Nigeria Civil Defence Corps to protect farmers facing security challenges.
The minister said that about 3.6 million indirect jobs had been created from the 2.4 billion dollars worth of externally-funded projects being implemented by the Buhari administration as 538 million dollars was approved for special agricultural processing zones to support inclusive and sustainable agricultural development in Nigeria.
“Another project worth 575 million dollars is being implemented to improve rural access and agricultural marketing in participating states,” he said.
He noted that FG is also strengthening the financing institutional base for effective development, maintenance and management of rural roads network. The participating states are Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Kano, Katsina, Kogi, Kwara, Kebbi, Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Plateau and Sokoto.
Mahmoud said the Value Chain Development Programme Additional Financing (VCDP) 2020-2024 is currently being implemented in nine states including Niger, Benue, Ogun, Ebonyi, Taraba and Anambra, Nasarawa, Kogi and Enugu “to scale up the achievement recorded in the original VCDP states’’.
On other government policies, he mentioned new climate policy called the Agro-Climatic Resilience in Semi-Arid Landscapes Project, a 700-million-dollars project, being implemented by three ministries; Environment, Agriculture, and Water Resources.
Mahmoud said government’s foresight in introducing measures to ward off the effects of COVID-19 and the Russia-Ukraine conflict had paid off, adding that despite global food challenges, Nigeria is significantly not experiencing a food crisis.
African Development Bank (AfDB) says the heat-tolerant wheat production technology being supported by the Bank in Nigeria, will help boost wheat production.
The AfDB stated that the goal would be to reduce the importation of the product by 40% by 2023, as the support would come under the Bank’s $1.5 billion Africa Emergency Food Production Facility.