THE African Development Bank (AfDB) will lend Nigeria $210 million to support smallholder farmers producing strategic crops and livestock, the bank said on Tuesday.
The funding is the first loan under an AfDB programme designed to reduce logistics costs. The programme is targeting seven states in Nigeria initially before being extended to 17 other African nations, AfDB said.
‘The project will support Nigeria’s efforts to raise agricultural productivity, promote investment, create wealth and jobs and transform rural areas into corridors of economic prosperity,’ the bank said in a statement.
During an investment summit in Saudi Arabia in October, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said Africa’s most populous nation had several million hectares of available arable land earmarked for the agriculture zones.
Other partners, such as the Islamic Development Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, will co-finance the project, AfDB said.
The average Nigerian farm has 1.8 hectares, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, and the country relies on imports to feed its 200 million people.
Many work the fields by hand on farms that have low yields from land that is almost totally lacking irrigation despite years of government attention and millions of dollars in targeted central bank loans.