The African Development Bank (AfDB) has said it will support the Rice Value Chain Development Programme (RVCDP) with 150 million dollars.
Dr Patrick Agboma, the AfDB's Chief Operations Officer, disclosed this in Abuja on Thursday at a two-day stakeholders workshop on pre-appraisal mission of AfDB-assisted Rice Value Chain Development Programme.
He recalled that the Federal Government had requested the bank to provide support for its Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) through value chain intervention development of rice, cassava, aquaculture and sorghum.
Agboma said that the fund would be used to provide infrastructure that could boost rice production.
"For instance you know in Bida-Badeggi, Niger, rice has been produced before all of us were born.
"Infrastructure that we have there has really deteriorated and if governments thought it wise to develop the infrastructure, it will go a long way to meet the objective of ATA."
He explained that the bank had held discussions with officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on the project.
According to him, they agreed that the entry point for the programme will be setting up crop processing centres located across the country.
He said that the crop processing zones would be located in areas with high potential for production of rice, cassava, aquaculture and sorghum.
He said that the pilot rice project would be in Adani, Enugu State; Omor, Anambra; Agbadu, Kogi, and Bida-Baddegi, Niger, for lowland and irrigation farming.
In her remarks, Mrs Ibukun Odusote, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, said that the crop processing centres would be provided with the necessary infrastructure to attract investors.
Represented by Dr Julius Odeyemi, the Director, Federal Department of Agriculture, Odusote said that 13 sites had been designated for the first set of the Staple Crop Processing Zones (SCPZ).
"The crop site selection was based on the criteria of cultivated hectares, production volume, volumes of production surplus and yield per hectare."
She said that the stakeholders' workshop was organised to garner inputs that would enrich the identified rice value chain, in order to package a bankable intervention programme in line with the ATA.
She added that the workshop also provided a forum to brainstorm on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the rice value chain.
In his address, Mr Olumuyiwa Azeez, the Director, Federal Department of Rural Development of the ministry, expressed the hope that the AfDB's support would complement the Federal Government's efforts to achieve ATA.
Azeez, who commended the bank for being the leading donor for the development of agriculture in the country since year 2000.
He noted that the bank's agriculture sector investment portfolio in the country currently stood at 500 million dollars.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) gathered that the workshop is expected to identify possible activities for intervention by the AfDB, to support the development of the rice value chain.
Also, as part of the programme pre-appraisal process, the mission had visited Niger, Anambra and Enugu States to inspect existing irrigation schemes and interact with stakeholders.