By Favour Nnabugwu
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Mohammad Abubakar, has called on the African Development Bank (AfDB) to support the recapitalisation of Nigeria’s Bank of Agriculture (BOA).
According to a statement on the ministry’s website, both parties have agreed to set up a task force team to develop a plan for accelerated implementation within the next 60 days during a delegation he led to the president, AFDB’s office in Abidjan.
Abubakar said his consultative mission to Abidjan was at the instruction of President Buhari.
“Our mission is to examine ways Nigeria could enhance food production, lower food prices, and create wealth,” the minister said.
Abubakar welcomed the bank’s proposed strategy to support Nigeria’s food production and described it as a landmark one that would spur Nigeria’s food supply production.
“It will reverse the ugly trend of a sharp increase in prices of food in the country. I am pleased with the bank’s strategy to facilitate the production of nine million metric tonnes of food in Nigeria and to support us in raising self-sufficiency. The bank’s Special Agro-Processing Zones initiative is a laudable one and Nigeria is grateful,” she said.
Abubakar thanked the Bank for its support and said the meeting gave him reassurances of what Nigeria can achieve with the bank’s support in the farming seasons ahead.
Earlier, the President of AfDB, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, said that the bank’s strategic support for Nigeria’s food production would be hinged on five factors: support, scale, systemic, speed, and sustainability.
He added, “I want to assure President Buhari that the African Development Bank will provide his government with very strong support to tackle the country’s food security challenges.”
Adesina urged the Nigerian Agric Minister to concentrate on building the correct team and tactics to optimise the country’s farming seasons, saying that dramatically increased food output will result in lower food prices, which will in turn lower inflation rates.
Citing successes in Sudan, Adesina explained how the AfDB supported the country with 65,000 metric tonnes of heat-tolerant wheat varieties, cultivated on 317,000 hectares.
In response to Bank successes in Sudan and Ethiopia, Abubakar said: “This gives me an additional measure of confidence. If you can do it in Sudan, you can equally do it in Nigeria. Not just in wheat, but also rice, maize, and soybeans.”
Adesina said: “The task, responsibility, and challenge of feeding Nigeria rest on your shoulders. You will receive maximum support from me, and the African Development Bank for the responsibility that President Buhari has given you. You will not be alone.”
He added: “The bank stands ready to fully support and help Nigeria in the next farming seasons. So, we must make sure things turn around. The president must succeed, and Nigeria must succeed. Agriculture must succeed.