Small and medium-scale farmers in Nigeria have attracted $200 million World Bank loan facility to the country.
The bank’s loan will have a low-interest rate, and a maturity of 25 years, with a five-year grace, or moratorium.
The International financial Institute was quoted by Reuters as confirming the development, adding that the money will help farmers tackle low yields, lack of seed capital to set up agro-factories, low-level adoption of technology and limited access to markets, all of which have retarding growth of the sector in Nigeria.
It further stated that the bank had said that about about 60,000 individuals will benefit directly from the funding, with 35 per cent being women.
According to the bank: “The priority value chains of the facility will include products with potential for immediate improvement of food security, with a potential for export and foreign currency earnings.”
The World Bank also said that no fewer than 300,000 farming households will indirectly benefit from the support programme.
Nigeria, following fallen prices for its mainstay, crude oil, and lower daily oil output, due to activities of the Niger Delta militants, slipped into its worst recession in 2016.
A report adds that the country spends about $20 billion, yearly importing food, with the fall in oil prices making it run short of dollars, which has also weakened its local currency, the naira.
The government has been battling with the idea of introducing sweeping economic recovery plans, including that of reforms to boost tax revenues.
One of the country’s programmes, aimed at achieving self-sufficiency in rice production, by 2018 and in wheat by 2019, are said to be facing some challenges, as local banks have no loan facilities for farmers.
Analysts believe that if the farmers-induced loan is properly utilised, Nigeria will soon join other countries known as net exporters of foods, like rice, cashew nuts, groundnuts, cassava and vegetable oil.
But a seasoned farmer, Alhaji Jubril Hassan, said government officials should do all things possible to ensure that beneficiaries of the said loan must be real farmers, who can concentrate their efforts on cultivating crops that have high yielding potential in their various locations.
“Since the news is that the World Bank is providing the loan for small-scale farmers, no emergency farmers should be allowed to emerge only to be a beneficiary of the facility, unless Nigeria wants to lose the confidence of the world body,” the farmer stated.
However, it could not be ascertained whether the approved loan has anything to do with the pending $1.4 billion loan being sought by Nigeria from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or World Bank for funding the deficit on the 2016 budget.
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