The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has set aside $100 million for investment in Nigeria in 2019 after the general election.
The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Sen Heineken Lokpobiri, at the weekend, commended Nigerian farmers over wealth creation and increased participation in pilgrimages under the Buhari-led administration.
Agriculture was once the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy and provided jobs for more than 70 percent of the population until the discovery of oil. Nigeria President and his government are now trying to revive agriculture to diversify the oil-dependent economy that has been battered by the fall in global crude prices.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Special Adviser to the Minister on Media, George Oji, where Lokpobiri made the assertion during the visit of new Country Representative, International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD, Ndine Gbossa, to his office.
According to him farmers’ wealth creation had made them to also increased number of wives who have further increased Nigeria’s population astronomically and overshooting the United Nation’s projection, which estimates that Nigeria’s population will rise to 200 million by 2020, which it has already hit the 200 million mark two years ahead of 2020.
He added that farmers in the country recorded the highest number of pilgrims that traveled to Mecca for hajj following increase in expendable incomes from agriculture.
He said: “The average Nigerian farmer is now a millionaire. In those days, people used to send money from the townships to their relatives in the rural areas, but right now, it is those in the villages that are sending money to their relatives in the townships.
“We believe that if more people get to see the results of these investments, they will be encouraged to go back to the rural areas instead of being in the townships constituting nuisance, committing crimes, going into drugs.
“What I discovered is that in some states you have many more rice millionaires now and as they get more money in rice, they also added more wives. Two other things that they do, they are able to go on pilgrimage to Mecca, because it is the wish of every Muslim to see how he can visit Mecca.
“And so, 99 per cent of those who went on pilgrimage to Mecca are farmers; rice farmers or cassava farmers, maize farmers, and other.”
Meanwhile, the Minister commended IFAD for the unprecedented support for the sector including the various value chains development programmes and projects with the sum of $500 million, which the Federal Government esteems the relationship and partnership with IFAD, which he noted that funds from the organization had played critical role in making Nigeria the highest producer of rice and cassava in Africa.
Earlier, speaking the IFAD Country Representative, Ndine Gbossa, disclosed that the executive board of the fund recently approved additional financing for Nigeria in the Value Chain Development, VCD, programme to the tune of $89 million, which brought the total investment for the programme to $228 million, including support for rice and cassava productions.
According to Gbossa another $60 million addition support for Niger Delta youth known as the Alive for Niger Delta Fund, ANDF, and as Nigeria remains a very important partner of IFAD and has also attracted the highest investment in Africa.
“Altogether, we have investment in Nigeria that is worth half a billion dollars. Nigeria is one of the biggest investment countries for IFAD, so it is a very important country”, she stated.