The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will provide a loan of US$75.4 million to the Federal Republic of Nigeria to help improve food security and incomes of smallholder farmers, with a particular focus on young people and rural women.
The loan agreement for the new Value Chain Development Programme was signed in Abuja by Nigeria’s Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and the President of IFAD, Kanayo F. Nwanze.
In Nigeria, more than half of the total population live in rural areas, with the agriculture sector accounting for more than 40 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and more than 60 per cent of total employment. Smallholder farmers – cultivating less than five hectares of land – produce about 90 per cent of the total national output.
While the country has seen growth over the past five years, rural poverty remains prevalent with two-thirds of the rural population living at or below the poverty line. Food self-sufficiency in Nigeria received a significant boost last year, when President Goodluck Jonathan pledged to end rice importation by 2015. The country spends about US$3 billion a year on rice imports. The government also plans to boost cassava production by 17 million tons in the same time period.
The Value Chain Development Programme, which is in line with the government’s vision for agricultural development, will focus on supporting cassava and rice small farmers in the six states of Anambra, Benue, Ebonyi, Niger, Ogun and Taraba. The programme will strengthen farmer organizations by building their capacity to take advantage of existing market opportunities and overcome constraints along the value chain. The programme will also improve rural infrastructure such as roads and water facilities. More than 200,000 poor rural households will benefit directly from the programme, which will have a particular focus on women and young people.
Since 1985, IFAD has financed 11 programmes and projects in Nigeria for a total investment of $225 million, directly benefitting more than one million rural households.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) works with poor rural people to enable them to grow and sell more food, increase their incomes and determine the direction of their own lives. Since 1978, IFAD has invested almost US$14 billion in grants and low-interest loans to developing countries through projects empowering about 400 million people to break out of poverty, thereby helping to create vibrant rural communities. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized UN agency based in Rome – the United Nations’ food and agriculture hub. It is a unique partnership of 168 members from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), other developing countries and the Organization for Economic Co‑operation and Development (OECD)