The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank has recently approved an ADF loan of $152.12 million (UA98.78 million) and an ADF grant of $0.38 million (UA0.25 million) to finance Nigeria’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Program Phase 1 (ATASP-1).
The overall goal of the programme is to transform agriculture into a profitable business.
ATASP-1 seeks to promote employment generation and shared wealth creation along the commodity value chains, as well as food and nutrition security. Its specific objective is to sustainably increase the income of smallholder farmers and rural entrepreneurs engaged in the production, processing, storage and marketing of the selected commodity value chains.
Reports from Bank funded projects indicate that while farmers have made significant gains by adopting improved crop varieties and farming practices, productivity falls far short of the full potential along the commodity value chains.
The Programme is in line with the federal government’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) which aims to attract private sector investment in agriculture, reduce post-harvest losses, add value to local agricultural produce, develop rural infrastructure and enhance access of farmers and other value chain actors to financial services and markets.
ATASP-1 is mainly an infrastructure restoration intervention that will rehabilitate 1,300 kilometres of irrigation water conveyance canals; 39,777 ha of existing crop production schemes; 1,330 kilometres of feeder roads; 1,007 units of hydraulic structures; 14 community markets; 35 primary schools; and 14 community health centres. It will provide 63 potable water and sanitation systems and establish seven technology demonstration centres.
It will be implemented in four Staple Crops Processing Zones in seven States covering 194,426 km2 of land and 32,121,944 inhabitants (50.93 per cent males and 49.07 per cent females) who are predominantly farmers and small scale commodity processors.
The direct beneficiaries of ATASP-1 include 45,300 farmers and rural entrepreneurs participating in commercial agricultural value chains in the four Processing Zones. These include existing or potential small, medium and large-scale entrepreneurs and business associations who provide services to rural households.
A further 200,000 rural youth (40 per cent of them are estimated to be females), who presently lack employment opportunities in the adjourning will be especially targeted in the outreach programme that will provide them with training and support to improve their lives through engagement in agriculture and related businesses.
The programme to be implemented in five years is estimated at $175 million (UA113.54 million). The Bank’s financing will account for 87.0 per cent of the overall costs. The federal government and seven States located in the four Processing Zones will contribute UA13.85 million (12.2 per cent), while the beneficiaries will contribute UA0.66 million (0.6 per cent) of total programme costs.
The beneficiaries include farmers and farmers’ cooperatives, commodity processors, private sector operators and registered Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).