The World Bank on Friday said it had approved 495.3 million dollars (about N80.7 billion) to boost agriculture in Northern Nigeria.
This is contained in a statement issued by Mr Bamidele Oladokun, Communications Associate to the World Bank, in Abuja.
The statement said that the bank’s executive directors approved the money to improve farmers’ access to irrigation and drainage services.
It stated that the money was also to strengthen institutional arrangements for integrated water resources management.
The board also intends to enhance delivery of agricultural services in selected large-scale public schemes in the Northern Nigeria.
This will be done through a project, ”Transforming Irrigation Management in Nigeria (TRIMING).
TRIMING will improve existing irrigation on 27, 000 hectares, irrigate an additional 23, 000 hectares, and benefit more than 140, 000 farmers, while mobilising private sector investment.
It marks a transformational effort to improve large-scale public irrigation for expanding food production and encourage economic growth in rural areas.
This is necessary to end poverty and boost prosperity, as well as enhance resilience of agriculture production systems,’’ the statement said.
It quoted the bank’s acting Vice-President for Africa Region, Mr Jamal Saghir, as saying that, “unlocking Africa’s development potential requires interventions in key sectors, such as energy and water.
By taking a comprehensive approach, the TRIMING project will increase farm productivity, build climate resilience and reduce flooding risks.
It will also improve the lives and well-being of millions of Nigerian citizens in Africa’s largest economy.”
The statement said that agriculture was a key sector of the Nigerian economy accounting for 22 per cent of gross domestic product in 2012.
The Nigeria’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) is a major initiative to drive rural income growth, accelerate achievement of food and nutritional security, and generate employment.
The bank’s portfolio of projects in agriculture, including research, extension and technology dissemination, market access and value addition, was fully geared towards supporting the implementation of the ATA.
Reaching the ATA’s goals requires pursuing an ambitious policy and institutional reform agenda, and transforming public irrigation will play an important role for securing sustainable growth of food production, it said.
The statement also quotes Miss Marie-Francoise Nelly, the Director of the bank in Nigeria, as saying that “in Nigeria’s determination to diversify and integrate its economy, the project will help in three vital ways.
By restoring agricultural productivity, creating job opportunities for a large number of unskilled young people, and creating conditions for growth and peace in the Northern Nigeria
The project will help to set-up Water User Associations (WUAs) and engage local communities in setting, collecting, and allocating water user fees.
It will also help support the design of a comprehensive reform package for water resources management and irrigation in Nigeria.
It further quoted the bank’s team leader for TRIMING, Mr David Casanova, as saying that the project’s innovative approach was intended to improve sustainability by promoting autonomy at scheme level and empowering WUAs organisation.
The statement said that the project would be implemented by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources (FMWR) and would become effective from Oct. 1. (NAN)