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FG receives $134m loan for wheat production

The Federal Government says it has obtained a $134 million loan from the Africa Development Bank to boost wheat production.

The Minister of Agriculture, Dr Muhammad Mahmoud, disclosed this in Abuja, while briefing State House correspondents on the implementation of the presidential mandate given to the ministry.

Dr Mahmoud explained that the aim was to save the country from acute scarcity of the commodity, whose demand and price have gone high due to the war between Russia and Ukraine.

To attain the desired objectives, he said the Federal Government had deployed 5,000 agro rangers, drawn from the Civil Defence Corps, to protect the farms.

The Minister also said N1.1 billion had been set aside for agric-funding to create 3.6 million jobs.

Dr Mahmoud said the government’s foresight in introducing measures to ward off the effects of Covid-19 and the Russia-Ukraine conflict had paid off.

The Minister expressed confidence that with 250,000 farmers cultivating 250,000 hectares in this year’s dry season, the initiative would intensify wheat production to 750,000 metric tonnes in Jigawa, Kebbi, Kano, Bauchi, Katsina, Kaduna, Sokoto, Zamfara, Gombe, Plateau, Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, and Taraba States.

He said $538 million was approved for special agricultural processing zones to support inclusive and sustainable agricultural development.

The participating states, according to him, are Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Kano, Katsina, Kogi, Kwara, Kebbi, Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Plateau, and Sokoto.

Dr Mahmoud said government was also implementing the Value Chain Development Programme Additional Financing, VCDPAD, 2020-2024 to sustainably enhance incomes and food security of poor rural households engaged in the production, processing and marketing of rice and cassava.

The project is currently being implemented in nine states, such as Niger, Benue, Ogun, Ebonyi and Taraba.

Others are: Anambra, Nasarawa, Kogi and Enugu.

The project, he added, is designed to scale up the achievement recorded in the original VCDPAD states.

Reporting by Abdullah Bello; Editing by Adeniyi Bakare and Tony Okerafor