Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, commended the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) for supporting Nigeria’s agricultural value chain development programme with the sum $500 million.
The minister assured Ms Ndine Gbossa, the new country representative of the fund, that the Nigerian government takes the partnership with IFAD “very seriously because the fund has played critical role in making Nigeria the highest producer of rice and cassava in Africa”.
Lokpobiri said “we take our partnership with IFAD very seriously and we appreciate the investments and the support that we are getting from you. Today, Nigeria is rated as the highest producer of rice and cassava in Africa, courtesy of IFAD intervention and the Anchor Borrowers Programme and Nigerians answering the clarion call of this administration to go back to the farms to produce what we eat and eat what we produce”.
He noted that it was necessary for more people to see the results the Nigerian government and its partners like IFAD are making in agricultural investments, noting this would encourage people to go back to the rural areas instead of being in the townships constituting nuisance, committing crimes or going into drugs.
The minister disclosed that the country used to spend a whooping sum of $5 million for the importation of rice every day, but that through new policy programmes by his ministry and the intervention of partners like IFAD the figure has drastically reduced.
In her remarks, Gbossa revealed that the Executive Board of the fund recently approved additional financing for Nigeria in the Value Chain Development programme to the value of $89 million, which brought the total investment in this programme to $228 million, for supporting rice and cassava production.
She also noted that this was in addition to another $60 million for supporting the Niger Delta Youth known as the Alive for Niger Delta fund.