2 November 2017

Nigeria: World Bank Earmarks $520m for Rural Roads in Ten States

The World Bank has earmarked a sum of $520 million for rural roads infrastructure across ten states in the country, including Kwara.

This, the bank said, would go a long way to facilitate the transportation of farm produce from rural communities to the nearby markets.

The World Bank Country Director for Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP), Engr. Tunji Ahmed disclosed this in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital during a courtesy visit to the state governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed at the Government House.

According to him, "the project was sponsored by the World Bank, French Development Bank and Africa Development Bank".

He said the facility would provide suitable road network for rural farmers to convey their farm produce to the market and avoid losses arising from wastages during transportation.

The Director noted that twenty-five per cent of farm produce are lost as a result of lack of access to markets occasioned by bad roads. He added that the RAAMP would improve rural access, agricultural marketing and open up rural areas in the selected participating states.

Responding, Governor Ahmed identified lack of good road network as an impediment to the movement of farm produce to the market for final consumers, thereby leading to wastages.

Ahmed commended the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government for diversifying the economy through its unprecedented commitment to agriculture.

The governor said the decision by the state government to present proposal for the project was to create connectivity in moving farm produce to the market. He disclosed that the state government has made provision for counterpart fund to enable it access the Bank's facility.

Meanwhile, following the successful implementation of the rice farming scheme under the Anchor Borrowers programme, Bauchi State Government has gone into collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria's Accelerated Agricultural Development Scheme (AADS) that seeks to provide 10,000 jobs for unemployed youth.

According to a statement signed by Press Secretary to the governor, Mallam Abubakar Al-Sadique, a team from the CBN led by the head of Agricultural Development Programme, Hajiya Amina Umar visited the governor in Abuja on State governments' engagement on the AADS.

Umar commended Governor Mohammed A. Abubakar for the "successful implementation of the Anchor Borrowers rice farming scheme in Bauchi State that shows the Buhari administration's agricultural programme is on the right track."

She urged other state governors to emulate the Bauchi State experience in which the governor personally visited rice farms to assess the performance of the programme, pointing out that with commitment to agriculture, the nation has vast arable land that can feed not only the nation but the entire West African sub-region.

Responding, Governor Abubakar assured that his administration was ready to collaborate with the CBN and any organisation that would bring development to the state, assuring that his administration was poised to create the necessary enabling environment that would create jobs to "our unemployed youth."

Lamenting the poor state of the nation's economy, which is affecting the ruling administration's promise to provide jobs during its electoral campaigns, Governor Abubakar said the ruling party had performed beyond average "under the economic circumstances it came into being and with the paucity of resources at the disposal of our governments."

The governor said the CBNs State governments' engagement on the Scheme was in line with the campaign promises of the All Progressives Congress since 2015.

While addressing farmers after visiting farmlands with over 2,500 hectares of rice in Itas Gadau and Zaki local government areas in June, Abubakar said his administration provided N400 million to the Anchor Borrowers' programme as a palliative measure for the farmers to continue with cultivation that would have been hampered by the delay in the release of funds to associations by commercial banks.

He told the farmers that his administration was compelled to take that action because of the failure of commercial banks to release the funds to the Anchor Borrowers rice farmers associations in the state, but assured them that the problems encountered in accessing the funds from the CBN-supported scheme in the state were being addressed with the banks.

He explained that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari had suspended the importation of rice and introduced its policy of local production because the nation is endowed with everything it needs to produce enough to feed the nation.

Governor Abubakar lauded the efforts of the farmers and their commitment to rice cultivation, stressing that with continuous governments' support, Nigeria which has abundant arable land suitable for rice cultivation in most states of the federation including Bauchi, would soon produce enough rice to feed the nation and be an exporter of the product to neighbouring countries.

"My administration, like the Buhari administration, does everything within the limited resources available to government to encourage our local farmers to boost agriculture especially rice production. Our youths are unemployed while most of our people especially rural dwellers are famers and most of the fertile land we're endowed with still remains uncultivated. This necessitated our determination to exploit the opportunities that abound in agriculture for our state and nation to regain the greatness", the governor said.

The statement further said the governor pledged government's support to the Rice Farmers' association while recalling that since assuming office as governor of Bauchi state in 2015, the administration has facilitated the successful implementation of all federal development programmes, especially agriculture like the Anchor Borrowers programme in the state.

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