The African Development Bank (AfDB) said it had committe d US$ 250 million to the development of the downstream sector of agriculture in N igeria, according to Tuesday’s account of the privately-owned This Day newspaper .
The Country Director of AfDB, Mr. Herve Assah, said he was struck by the compone nts of the Nigerian food basket because it was “diverse”.
The AfDB commitment comes on the heels of the Nigerian government’s determinatio n to grant subsidies to farmers in the country.
According to Assah, the AfDB fund will be used to improve processing and marketi ng of food.
World Bank country director, Mr. Onno Ruhl, also announced the release of US$ 30 million for Fadama III, which should commence 1 July.
He said that he saw “an opportunity” for the Nigerian farmer in the current worl d food crisis, and called the Nigerian food agenda “a rational response” to the s ituation.
Nigerian Agriculture and Water Resources Minister Abba Sayyadi Ruma said the gr een revolution which is being pursued by President Umaru Yar’Adua’s administrati o n would not succeed without a proper financial infrastructure, including subsidy , to drive it.
The goals of the new programme include making the sector competitive and involvi ng youths and the private sector.
Ruma spoke at a dinner to kick off an emergency meeting of the National Council on Agriculture in Abuja.
The meeting, the second since Yar’Adua came to power a year ago, is to look at, and finalise the draft national food security programme, prepared and launched l ast month by the agriculture ministry.
Ruma said that the World Bank preaches against financial assistance to farmers, but “no World Bank language can say agricultural subsidy” is not needed in Niger i a.
According to him, no serious nation can afford not to subsidise agriculture. “Ag riculture must be subsidised,” the minister added.
The World Bank estimates that rich countries spend US$ 280 billion on subsidy a year — the European Union spends US$ 134 billion, Japan US$ 47 billion and the U S US$ 43 billion a year as government handouts.
According to AfDB, the figures are more than three times the level of 2005 globa l overseas aid to developing countries.