Federal Government Reveals Allocation of $134m from AfDB to Enhance Wheat, Maize, Sorghum Production, and More

ABUJA- HOPE rises on food production and availability as the Federal Government, Wednesday, disclosed African Development Bank’s $134 million allocation to Nigeria will be for the production of rice, maize, sorghum and soybean.

E Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Ernest Umakhihe, made the disclosure in a keynote address during the ‘Preparatory Meeting of Relevant Stakeholders for the Implementation of National Agricultural Growth Scheme and Agro Pocket , NAGS-AP, in Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Programme Phase-One, ATASP-1 States of Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi, Niger, and Sokoto’ held in Abuja.

Umakhihe explained to participants that the meeting was basically to deliberate and chart a way forward for the effective and efficient implementation of the rebranded National Agricultural Growth Scheme and Agro-pocket, an ICT-based platform for the delivery of farm inputs such as Fertilizers, seeds, Agrochemicals etc to the farmers across the country.

He also reminded the participants that the Federal Government in collaboration with the State Governments and in partnership with the various private sector players implemented an e- wallet Scheme called ‘Growth Enhancement Support, GES, Scheme between 2012 – 2017, which was designed purposely to serve as a channel for the delivery of the agricultural Inputs to farmers across the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory.

Meanwhile, he recalled that was a known fact that the GES Scheme made significant impact in the lives and incomes of the farmers particularly the smallholder farmers including input producers and distributors as well as other value chain players like financial institutions and those operating in the downstream processing, marketing and value addition also significantly benefitted under the scheme despite some challenges in the Scheme.

According to him, the Federal Government after critical re-examination of the enormous multiplier benefits derivable under the Scheme, rebranded it with a new name ‘National Agricultural Growth Scheme and Agro-pocket, NAGSAP,’ while its implementation strategies and operational modalities were also reformed to eliminate observed weakness and associated challenges.

He said: “It was in the Ministry’s desire to test run the re-formed Agro Pocket Scheme, that the Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Programme Phase-One (ATASP-1) Project was restructured to obtain funds to kick start the implementation of the Scheme in the five ATASP-1 States of Niger, Kebbi, Jigawa, Kano and Sokoto.

“Under the programme, a total of 60,000 smallholder farmers in 26 Local Government Areas of the five ATASP-1 States that are involved in the cultivation of rice, maize and sorghum will be supported with critical farm inputs such as fertilizers, seeds and agrochemicals through the ICT based delivery platform with a view to increasing their productivities, household incomes and livelihood so as to contribute towards bridging the national food supply – demand gap arising from the global food crisis, COVID- 19, climatic variabilities, security challenges to mention but few.

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“The use of the same ICT platform will as well as adopted in implementing future farm inputs support programme to the farmers especially under the forthcoming Policy Base Operations, PBO, project.

“The Policy Base Operations, PBO, as you may be aware, is a Sector Budget Support, SBS, project prepared under the African Emergency Food Production Facility, AEFPF, funded through a loan from the African Development Bank, AfDB, to be implemented across the 36 States of the federation and FCT for a period of two years or so beginning from the 2023/2024 dry season farming.

“Under the PBO facility, a total sum of USD134 million was allocated to Nigeria to support wheat production and other key crops such as rice, maize, sorghum and soyabean and it will be implemented via the National Agricultural Growth Scheme and Agro Pocket, NAGSAP.”

The Permanent Secretary further explained that, “The goal of the National Agricultural Growth Scheme (NAGS) is to increase total food production to crash the continued rise in the prices of agricultural commodities and make them affordable to the average Nigerians.

“The key objective is to increase the production of wheat, rice, maize, sorghum and soyabean through the provision of relevant farm inputs such as fertilizers, seeds, agro-chemicals etc to small scale farmers under both wet and dry season farming.

“Specifically, the project is targeted to support over 250,000 wheat farmers with relevant farm inputs to cultivate about 250,000 hectares with expected output of 1,250,000 metric tonnes of wheat to be added to the food reserve with a view to reducing dependence on foreign importation of the product and increase domestic consumption particularly for the Flour Millers.

According to him, the project aside supporting farmers with critical farm inputs for the production of the priority crops, will also provide institutional supports for better performances.

“It is therefore expected that, this important gathering of relevant stakeholders will provide an opportunity to re-examine the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and the Operational Modalities (OMs) of NAGS-AP with a view to eliminating any possible areas of weaknesses being exploited by the enemies of the Scheme as any form compromise from any player involved in its implementation will not be tolerated or accepted.

“It is of paramount importance to note as well that, all the reformed areas would be fully implemented and complied with in order to preserve, protect the integrity and sustenance of the scheme which most Nigerians and the international partners are expected to see”, he said.

However, the Permanent Secretary charged input producers on producing products based on the prescribed standards, and also input distributors to sell only certified and approved products.

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“I am therefore charging you the input producers to ensure that you will be addressed appropriately produce your products in line with the prescribed set standards, the input distributors or agro-dealers to sell only certified and approved products. The farmers in turn are expected to use the entire inputs given to in line with the best agronomic practices.

“In the same vein, the personnel or officers that would be deployed to manage and coordinate the supply chain activities should adhere strictly to the laydown rules and guiding principles while in its case, the ICT platform provider is expected deploy the best and reliable system that can capture and trace all the transactions under the scheme, being the primary purpose government decided to use technology platform in the inputs delivery process”, he added.

Earlier, in an address of welcome, the National Coordinator, ATASP-1, Ibrahim Arabi, highlighted impact made since inception of the Programme.

“ATASP-1 has added additional 1,397,939.32MT of food to the National Food Reserve against Life of Program target of 120,000MT.

“The Programme has been able to create 1,923,524 new jobs above revised Life of Program target of 350,000 from program inception till date and the income of Program beneficiaries has increased from N 517,000 at baseline to N2,684,172,080

“NAGS-AP will be implemented in five states namely Niger, Kano, Jigawa, Sokoto and Kebbi States.

“The crops being promoted are Rice, Sorghum, and Maize. The benefitting farmers will be assisted with inputs such as fertilizers, agrochemical and seeds”, Arabi added.

According to him, the demonstration carried out on improved varieties and Good Agronomic Practice (GAP) of Cassava including the various capacity buildings resulted into increase in yield of Cassava from 10 MT/Ha at baseline to an average of 34.6 MT/Ha representing over 100% yield increase.

The total land area under cassava production increased from 11,840Ha at baseline to 20,980Ha. An estimated 664,436.6MT of cassava roots have been added to the national food basket while the revenue accruable is estimated at N 53,154,928,000.

Under the Rice Value Chain, a combination of the introduction of improved Rice varieties, capacity buildings on GAP and demonstration of proven production technologies contributed to the significant increase in yield of over 198% from 1.8MT per hectare to an average of 6.1 MT per hectare.

The total area under production across the four SCPZs increased from 10,560Ha at baseline to 102,358.52Ha . It is estimated that 624,386.52MT of Rice paddy has been added to the national food basket. This translates to estimated revenue of N 118,633,438,800.

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