Abuja — The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Akinwumi Adesina, says the World Bank will support the Agricultural Transformation Agenda of the Federal Government with a 500 million dollar grant
He disclosed this in Abuja on Friday while addressing newsmen on the outcome of the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme.
The GES programme is a Federal Government's initiative aimed at subsidising the cost of major agricultural inputs such as fertiliser and seeds.
Under the initiative the direct procurement and distribution of farm inputs to farmers is discontinued and supplies are expected to be done through an electronic distribution channel known as the e-wallet.
The e-wallet scheme stipulates that farmers registered under the GES are expected to pay 50 per cent of the cost inputs, while the Federal and State Governments pay 25 per cent each.
He said: "the grant will cover the areas of the priority value chains. Mr President has said that we must be self-sufficient in rice production by the year 2015.
"So rice is the most important commodity that we are working on, World Bank agreed with us on that and they will be providing significant amount of support to us.
"I had earlier met with the World Bank delegation from Washington DC, led by Dr Jamal Tajir, the Director, Sustainable and Development Department of the bank to discuss about the grant. "
He pointed out that the grant was as result of the five missions the World Bank sent to the country earlier in the year.
Adesina said the bank would also provide support for the cassava value chain programme, explaining that he had discussed in details with the delegation about the cassava value chain.
"The decision to use cassava to replace some of the wheat flour we are importing is not a political decision. It is an economic decision.
"Economic in the sense that Nigeria spend N635 billion every year importing wheat. "
According to him, there is need for the country to diversify its economy, create jobs and add value to its produces.
The minister also said that he discussed with the delegation what the ministry was doing about maximising cocoa production.
He expressed optimism that the country could beat countries like Ivory Coast, Brazil and Cameroun in the production of cocoa.
Adesina said that the country had the variety that gives five times the yield of cocoa.
He said that was why the Federal Government directed the ministry to distribute the cocoa hybrid to farmers for free because most cocoa plantations in the country were old.