The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors on Friday approved a $495.3m International Development Association credit to improve farmers’ access to irrigation and drainage services in the North.
A statement issued by the bank on Friday said the money would strengthen institutional arrangements for integrated water resources management and improve delivery of agricultural services in selected, large-scale public schemes in northern Nigeria.
“The Transforming Irrigation Management in Nigeria project will improve existing irrigation on 27,000 hectares, irrigate an additional 23,000 hectares, and benefit more than 140,000 farmers while mobilising private sector investment.
“It marks a transformational effort to improve large-scale public irrigation for expanding food production and catalysing economic growth in rural areas necessary to end poverty and boost prosperity, as well as enhance resilience of agriculture production systems,” the bank said.
Acting Vice President for the Africa Region, World Bank, Jamal Saghir, said, “Unlocking Africa’s development potential requires interventions in key sectors such as energy and water.
“By taking a comprehensive approach, the TRIMING project will increase farm productivity, build climate resilience, reduce flooding risks and improve the lives and well-being of millions of Nigerian citizens in Africa’s largest economy.”
Justifying the credit, the bank said agriculture is a key sector of the Nigerian economy accounting for 22 per cent of gross domestic product in 2012.
“The project will help to set-up Water User Associations and engage local communities in setting, collecting, and allocating water user fees. It will also help support the design of a comprehensive reform package for water resources management and irrigation in Nigeria,” the bank said.
The government of Nigeria’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda was a major initiative to drive rural income growth, accelerate achievement of food and nutritional security, and generate employment, it added.
The World Bank’s portfolio of projects in agriculture, including agriculture research, extension and technology dissemination, as well as market access and value addition, is fully geared towards supporting the implementation of the ATA.
According to the bank, reaching the ATA’s goals requires pursuing an ambitious policy and institutional reform agenda, and transforming public irrigation will play an important role for securing sustainable growth of food production.
The World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Marie-Francoise Marie-Nelly, said, “Given Nigeria’s determination to diversify and integrate its national economy to benefit all Nigerians, this project will help to advance this ambition in three vital ways, by restoring agricultural productivity, creating job opportunities for a large number of unskilled young people, as well as creating conditions for growth and peace in northern Nigeria.”
The World Bank Task Team Leader for the TRIMING project, Mr. David Casanova, said the project’s innovative approach “seeks to improve sustainability by promoting autonomy at scheme level and empowering Water Users Associations.”
The project, which will be implemented by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, is planned to become effective on October 1.