The Federal Executive Council (FEC) yesterday approved the procurement of 152-million-dollar loan (about N35.9 billion) and 385,000-dollar grant (about N64.5 million) for agricultural development.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, made this known after the council meeting presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan at the State House.
Adesina said that the facilities to be obtained from the African Development Bank (AfDB) would be used to develop 14 Staple Crops Processing Zones in seven states and 27 local government areas.
According to him, the loan to support agricultural production and investments, will attract 1.5 per cent interest and be repaid over 22 years.
Specifically, Adesina said that the fund would be used to develop infrastructure in the 14 Staple Crops Processing Zones in order to attract foreign investors in the food processing sector.
“As a government, we are determined to do import substitution by making sure that all what we are producing — rice, cassava, maize, soya beans and others — are processed in the zones of high production.
He explained that a Staple Crop Processing Zone is an area of high production where the government would provide the enabling environment to attract private sector food processing companies.
“It is a big game changer for agriculture and the AfDB and the World Bank are so excited about it that they have asked other African countries to copy Nigeria.”
Adesina said that the zones would be located in Adani-Omo, in Ebonyi and Enugu states, for rice and cassava; Bida and Badeggi for rice; Kano and Jigawa for rice, tomato and sorghum; Kebbi and Sokoto for rice and Sorghum.
He listed the seven states to be involved in the first phase as Anambra, Enugu, Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi, Niger and Sokoto.
“The facility will support infrastructure development, production facility, irrigation infrastructure, social infrastructure in particular, rural roads, potable water, sanitation and healthcare.
“We want the rural areas to be places where the young ones can stay and be productive. The loan will also be used for agro-processing development, value addition and market information system for farmers in those areas.
According to him, the zones will generate 120,000 jobs of which 36,000 will be women.
He said the programme will allow the addition of 20 million tonnes of rice, cassava and sorghum into domestic food supply.
The minister added that 17 water control structures would be rehabilitated including 1,300 irrigation canals.
Furthermore, he said that 1,007 tube wells would be constructed while a total of 68,000 hectares of rice, cassava and sorghum would be put under commercial production.
He added that access to insurance by farmers in the seven states would increase from nine per cent to 80 per cent while the numbers of farmers’ organisations obtaining loans from banks and other micro finance institutions would jump from 22 per cent to 80 per cent. (NAN)