The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has approved a project worth 80-million-dollars for Nigeria, says Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development.
Adesina disclosed this on Thursday in Abuja while answering questions from newsmen at the Ministerial Platform to commemorate the 2012 National Democracy Day celebration.
``The IFAD project is worth 80 million dollars and we had completed the negotiation with them (IFAD). We had completed that in February and March.
``I am pleased to inform the nation that this has been approved by the board of IFAD and that is great news for us.’’
According to him, the development is part of IFAD’s pledge to assist the Federal Government realise the 40 per cent cassava flour inclusion in bread initiative.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that Adesina had discussed the cassava initiative with IFAD President Kanayo Nwanze during the 35th session of the UN agency in Rome in February.
Adesina recalled that IFAD had promised to assist the country secure a four-million-dollar grant for a joint training programme with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) on the initiative.
The Minister observed that the grant had become imperative to enable IITA to provide support to the initiative, through research, modern technology, training and demonstration for bakers across the country.
He added that the Federal Government was also negotiating with other institutions to obtain the required grant, adding that the government was exploring various strategies for the smooth implementation of the initiative.
Adesina also commented on efforts to develop the local rice industry.
He said that the Ministries of Water Resources, Power and Works had packaged a comprehensive plan to revitalise Omor Rice Mill in Anambra State to realise its full potential.
He said that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development was collaborating with Gov. Peter Obi of Anambra to privatise the mill.
``The Omor rice mill has capacity for the production 30,000 tonnes annually. That mill was built 10 years ago.
``That mill has only worked 10 hours in 10 years and that was because it was being run by government.’’
He gave assurance that the comprehensive plan would be extended to every abandoned agricultural project in the country.
On the issue of tractors, Adesina said that the country has only 20,000 functioning tractors.
He, however, said that the Federal Government would soon launch a programme for access to affordable tractors for farmers.
``During my trip to the U.S.A., we concluded initial negotiation with the largest manufacturer of tractors in the world.
``They will be here next month and we are going to have them establish two manufacturing plants for tractors.’’, adding that the plants would be located in Rivers and Kaduna State.