Govt to empower 10,000 rice, cassava farmers with N2.5bn

Govt to empower 10,000 rice, cassava farmers with N2.5bn
Rice Farmers

The Federal Government has entered into an agreement with the United Nations Development Programme to commit a total of $8.06m (N2.45bn) to boost agricultural output along the rice and cassava value chain.

The deal for the funding was sealed between the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing for Agricultural Lending, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the UNDP.

The Managing Director, NIRSAL, Mr. Aliyu Abdulhameed, said the programme would be implemented through the Nigerian Agribusiness Supplier Development Project.

Speaking at the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, he said that the focus of the NASDP was to eliminate supply chain bottlenecks in the rice and cassava value chains through improved linkages between production and processing actors.

Out of the total $8.06m, Abdulhameed stated that NIRSAL would provide the sum of $1,558,500 which is approximately 20 per cent of the entire funding requirement, to implement the project.

Out of NIRSAL’s contribution, he added that the sum of $558,500 would be utilised under its technical assistance pillar for capacity building of the beneficiaries.

The balance of $1m, Abdulhameed stated, would be used as non-expendable credit that could be applied under the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme and other financing interventions.

He said since the current drive of the Federal Government had brought agricultural development to the fore, with major focus on rice and cassava in this case, the NASDP would be a critical vehicle to support the development of these two commodities.

Abdulhameed explained that the implementation of the programme would lead to an increase in the supply of agricultural products by farmers, particularly in the rice and cassava value chains, reduce transportation and inventory costs, and improve access to growing markets that were provided by structured off-takers.

He added that the NASDP would also provide off-takers with efficient and high-quality local agricultural raw materials; contribute to the development of African economies through increased job creation, foreign direct investment; and enhanced government income through taxation by developing agricultural products that could substitute imports and create access to export markets.

He said, “It is our vision that the successful implementation of this project will increase agricultural productivity, boost our Gross Domestic Product and in turn improve the standard of living of the average Nigerian.

“This project will directly impact over 10,000 smallholder farmers, and over 50,000 lives annually and consolidate capacity of processors across Nigeria through a better and structured logistics arrangement with primary producers.”

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