The Africa Development Bank is set to assist Nigeria in the production of rice and coffee.
This was revealed during an interactive session held in Abuja between officials of the bank and those of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD).
According to a statement signed and issued to BusinessDay last week in Abuja by the Head of Press and Public Relations of the FMARD, Tope Ajakaiye, the leader of the ADB mission on rice development, Mr. Andy Khumbanyiwa, said that the bank will assist the West Africa Rice Development Association in the dissemination of the various News Africa Rice (NERICA) verities.
This, he said involves four components which include, seed production and research, capacity building; private sector intervention; and coordination. ADB Mission Leader for Coffee Development, Ms Kasalu Coffin, disclosed that the Bank's interest are in the areas of coffee quality improvement at research level and coffee consumption promotion and marketing.
According to the ADB officials, Nigeria is one of the nine countries to be used as pilot for a US $ 2 million fund to be disbursed as both loans and grants.
In his response, the Ministry's Permanent Secretary, Mr. Oloche Edache, who represented the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Malam Adamu Belo, at the interactive session, said that ADB's intervention in the issue of rice production is quite timely as Nigeria is already seeking ways of reducing the importation of rice and increasing internal production.
On coffee, he revealed that Nigeria has a great potential for its production with about 40,000 hectares of suitable land.
He said further that coffee production is included in and funded under the National Accelerated Tree Crops Production Programme.
He, however, regretted that its production is still very low at just about 8,000 hectares per annum. This, he said, is due to the factors of quality and marketing.
The Permanent Secretary implored the ADB to initially focus its assistance towards the production of quality coffee and this, he said, should be done with the cooperation of the relevant agencies of government and non-government organisations such as the Tea and Coffee Association of Nigeria.