AFRICA. Nigeria: The Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economics and Social Affairs projects Nigeria to become the world’s fourth most populous, with a population of 402 million by 2050, against 206 people in 2020. This is just 28 years away from now.
However, the report showed that the African most populous nation is projected to be the third most populous country globally. As it moved from 10th most populous country in 1990 to sixth most populous in 2020.
Against this backdrop, the African Development Bank (AFDB) Board has taken action to release a US$134 million National Agriculture Growth Scheme Agro Pocket (NAGS–APP) credit facility for Nigerians to increase food production and strengthen human livelihood.
According to a statement issued by the bank’s Communication and External Relations Specialist, Emeka Ezekiel, the programme is aimed at supporting and fast-tracking approval of some core agricultural policies to help boost private sector involvement in agricultural business.
Ezekiel added that the loan facility would further help increase cereals and oil grains production to about 35 million tonnes. This will add to average cereal yields from 1.42 tonnes to 2 tonnes per hectare during the September 2022-December 2023 implementation period. It also aligns with the African Emergency Food Production Facility and would help Nigeria’s effort to achieve more in food production. Ezekiel said.
Also speaking, the Director-General of the bank’s Nigeria Country Department, Lamin Barrow, noted that the programme will drive home support for maize, rice, wheat, soybeans and sorghum farming, most especially the wheat value chain.
This programme is supported by the National Agricultural Technology and Innovation Policy (NATIP) 2022 to 2027, which is aimed at reawakening Nigeria’s agriculture sector in line with changing global food systems and supply chains, Barrow said.
The NAGS–APP is expected to help build the resilience of farming livelihoods, enhance farmers’ access to improved seeds, and strengthen the capacity of industry stakeholders, Barrow added.
However, inadequate support for the farmers has confined them to traditional agronomic techniques, resulting in low productivity and limited opportunities for value addition.
In 2020, the harvested cereals area and yields declined by 2.75 per cent and 1.5 per cent, respectively.