Sterling Bank Plc Board of Directors Chairman, Asue Ighodalo, has given Nigeria’s agricultural productivity currently growing at 1.3 percent a hard knock, pointing out that the sector’s growth rate is insufficient to meet food and raw materials demands of the country.
Ighodalo was speaking at the 4th Agriculture Summit Africa (ASA) 2021 organised by the Bank in Lagos, the commercial capital of the country as the Presidency was busy rolling out some agricultural projects in the country that will be financed with the proposed $4 billion loan upon approval.
The Presidency says the huge credit will be sourced from multilateral institutions, under the 2018-2021 medium-term (rolling) external borrowing plan.
Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, in a statement said President Muhammadu Buhari is praying the Red Chamber of the National Assembly to approve the sovereign loans of $4.054 billion and €710 million as well as to grant components of $125million for some proposed projects in the country.
A communication from the Presidency to Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, indicates that the sovereign loans will be sourced from the World Bank, French Development Agency (AFD), China-Exim Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Credit Suisse Group and Standard Chartered/China Export and Credit (SINOSURE).
While under the external borrowing plan, the World Bank is expected to finance the Agro-Processing, Productivity, Enhancement, and Livelihood Improvement Support Project, states to benefit from the project include Kogi, Kaduna, Kano, Cross River, Enugu, and Lagos under the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) as the implementing ministry.
The major objective of the agro-processing project, the Presidency noted, was to enhance the agricultural productivity of small and medium-scale farmers and to improve value addition along priority value chains in the participating states.
Accordingly, not less than 29 states will also benefit from the Agro-Climatic Resilience in Arid Zone Landscape project since it is expected to reduce natural resource management conflicts in dry and semi-arid ecosystems in Nigeria.
To be co-financed by the World Bank and European Investment Bank (EIB), the states to benefit have been listed as Akwa Ibom, Borno, Oyo, Sokoto, Kano, Katsina, Edo, Plateau, Abia, Nasarawa, Delta, Niger, Gombe, Imo, Enugu, Kogi, Anambra, Niger, Ebonyi, Cross River, Ondo, Kaduna, Kebbi, Jigawa, Bauchi, Ekiti, Ogun, Benue, Yobe and Kwara.
While the World Bank is also funding the Livestock Productivity and Resilience project in no fewer than 19 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), on its part, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will finance the Value Chain Development Programme to be implemented in Anambra, Benue, Ebonyi, Niger, Ogun, Taraba, Nasarawa, Enugu, and Kogi states.
The programme is projected to empower 100,000 farmers, including over 6,000 and 3,000 processors and traders, respectively. As a result, President Buhari is seeking the consideration and approval of the Senate to fund these projects captured under the 2018-2021 borrowing plan.
However, at the Summit with the theme, Building the New Agro Order, the bank chief noted that it was unacceptable and an ironic paradox to have raw materials shortages and food insecurity amidst so many fertile and arable lands across Africa.
“In the last three years, our bank has paid attention to and concentrated resources on the health, agriculture, renewable energy, education and transportation sectors. These when put together represent the heart of Sterling, and right in the middle of our strategy is the agriculture sector
“With millions at risk of being deprived of their means of livelihoods occasioning major concerns around food security and with an estimated population of over 200 million growing at an annual rate of three percent. Regardless of recent interventions, agricultural productivity in Nigeria growing at about 1.3 percent is insufficient to meet our food and raw materials demand’’, says Ighodalo.
He emphasised that Nigeria’s agriculture deficit continues to widen despite government interventions and a wide range of opportunities in the sector, and identified low yields per hectare due to shortages in quality of inputs, climate changes, among others as inhibiting factors to the growth of the sector.
Ighodalo also claimed that the bank is committed to changing the narrative by catalysing revenue growth to rev the continent into equal level with the developed world which he added was in the middle of the 4th industrial revolution.