THE World Bank has approved a $495.3 million (about ₦79.2 billion) International Development Association (IDA) credit to aid agricultural produce in Nigeria. The bank in a statement to The Guardian, at the weekend, said the grant is aimed at improving farmers’ access to irrigation and drainage services, strengthen institutional arrangements for integrated water resources management and improve delivery of agricultural services in selected, large-scale public schemes in northern Nigeria.
According to World Bank, the Transforming Irrigation Management in Nigeria (TRIMING) project will improve existing irrigation on 27,000 hectares, irrigate an additional 23,000 hectares, and benefit more than 140,000 farmers while mobilizing private sector investment.
The project, expected to be implemented by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources (FMWR) is planned to become effective on October 1, 2014.
It believed that the grant would mark a transformational effort to improve large-scale public irrigation for expanding food production and catalyzing economic growth in rural areas necessary to end poverty and boost prosperity, as well as enhance resilience of agriculture production systems.
Acting Vice President for the Africa Region, World Bank, Jamal Saghir said: “Unlocking Africa’s development potential requires interventions in key sectors such as energy and water. By taking a comprehensive approach, the TRIMING project will increase farm productivity, build climate resilience, reduce flooding risks and improve the lives and well-being of millions of Nigerian citizens in Africa’s largest economy.”
Agriculture is a key sector of the Nigerian economy accounting for 22 percent of gross domestic product in 2012. The government’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) is a major initiative to drive rural income growth, accelerate achievement of food and nutritional security, and generate employment.
The bank’s portfolio of projects in agriculture, including on agriculture research, extension and technology dissemination, as well as market access and value addition, is fully geared towards supporting the implementation of the ATA.
However, it noted that reaching the ATA’s goals requires pursuing an ambitious policy and institutional reform agenda, and transforming public irrigation will play an important role for securing sustainable growth of food production.
World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, said: “Given Nigeria’s determination to diversify and integrate its national economy to benefit all Nigerians, this project will help to advance this ambition in three vital ways, by restoring agricultural productivity, creating job opportunities for a large number of unskilled young people, as well as creating conditions for growth and peace in northern Nigeria.
“The project will help to set-up Water User Associations (WUAs) and engage local communities in in setting, collecting, and allocating water user fees. The project will also help support the design of a comprehensive reform package for water resources management and irrigation in Nigeria.
World Bank Task Team Leader for the TRIMING project, David Casanova, said: “The project’s innovative approach seeks to improve sustainability by promoting autonomy at scheme level and empowering Water Users Associations (WUAs) organization. We look forward to effective implementation of this important project.” he said.