WASHINGTON, September 25, 2012 – The World Bank’s Board of Directors today approved $US170 million to help the Government of Nigeria modernize its agricultural sector by upgrading roadways and river crossings in Adamawa, Enugu, Osun and Niger state.
The financing will contribute to the Government’s Nigeria Agriculture Transformation Agenda (NATA), designed to boost the competitiveness of selective high-value crops including rice, cassava, sorghum and cocoa. The project will improve conditions on 1,450 km of rural roads, and build 65 river crossings such as causeways, fords, and small bridges.
The project will also ensure that rehabilitated rural roads are adequately maintained, through introducing innovative community-based road maintenance practices and providing incentives for a sustainable financing of road maintenance. These activities will also create employment opportunities for men and women from poor rural communities living aside from the roads to be rehabilitated.
“Diversifying Nigeria’s economy beyond its oil sector is vital to reducing the poverty in the country’s rural communities,” said Jamal Saghir, World Bank Director for Sustainable Development, Africa Region. “This project will improve road access, boost agricultural trade opportunities, and enable access to social services benefiting rural communities.”
In addition, the project will improve the conditions of select feeder roads to increase connectivity between farmers, production areas, processing zones, and markets.
“Agriculture remains the backbone of Nigeria’s rural economy,” said Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly World Bank Country Director for Nigeria. “The project advances the themes of Nigeria’s Country Partnership Strategy to accelerate growth in non-oil sectors by improving roads that are vital to increase agriculture productivity and access to health and education for rural communities.”
The rehabilitated roads will benefit Nigeria, the most populated country in Africa, and support the Government’s push to expand its economy beyond the oil sector by modernizing agricultural production.
“We look forward to speedy and effective implementation of this project so that poor rural households, who mostly depend on agriculture for subsistence, will see an improvement in their access to social services, and an increase in their incomes,” said Juan Gaviria and Nicolas Peltier-Thiberge, Co-Task Team Leaders for the project.