THE African Development Bank (AfDB) had approved a $1.5 billion facility to support Regional Member Countries (RMCs) under the African Emergency Food Production Facility (AEFPF) to address real and emerging food crisis occasioned by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The AfDB, under AEFPF, approved a $134 million sector budget support Programme-Based Operation (PBO) for the Nigerian government to boost local production of wheat, rice, maize, soybean, cassava, among other crops and to implement activities that are aligned to the National Agriculture Technology and Innovation Policy (NATIP) from 2022 to 2027.

The PBO operation, named National Agricultural Growth Scheme – Agro-pocket (NAGS-AP), has a planned completion date of December 31, 2024.

The aim of NAGS-AP is to address various challenges with low agricultural productivity of smallholder farmers, especially access and affordability of certified seeds of improved and climate smart crop varieties and inorganic fertiliser through enhanced private sector participation in input production and distribution systems.

Furthermore, the project seeks to take advantage of previous efforts of the Nigerian government to make farm input distribution a private sector-led effort and subsidies for farm inputs accountable and transparent.

It is worthy to note that the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme and the e-wallet successfully reached 15 million farmers with seeds and fertiliser between 2013 and 2015 and raised food production by another 21 million metric tonnes.

Outcomes of the NAGS-AP project is to improve food security in the country while lifting millions in rural communities out of poverty and contributing to increased economic opportunities in rural Nigeria to overall economic development.

NAGS-AP is based on the “e-wallet” platform, an innovative, private-sector based, efficient and transparent ICT platform that helps to directly deliver support to small holder farmers for purchase of farm inputs without an intermediary.

The “e-wallet” platform consists of a database of farmers, agro-dealer network for last mile delivery, seed and fertiliser suppliers, an electronic wallet to directly support farmers with half of the costs of inputs and farm extension services.

The e-wallet platform was first developed and piloted in Nigeria in 2012 and used for the 2013-2015 dry and wet seasons and the 2016 wet season. The ICT platform ensures an end-to-end management of agro-input supply chains, from the supplier to the agro-dealer and then to the farmer.

In July and August 2023, the agro-pocket portal was rolled out and used to supply inputs to 52,000 farmers in five states, namely; Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kano and Jigawa.

The portal was observed to be robust in delivering the inputs. However, due to delays in procurement and other factors, the inputs were delivered very late. Majority of the farmers – who were ATASP-1 trained farmers and had mostly received extension support from AfricaRice (for rice) and ICRISAT (for sorghum) utilised the fertiliser and agro-chemicals on their already planted fields and kept the seed for the ensuing season.

Using the NAGS-AP portal, input for the cultivation of 118,557 hectares of wheat in 15 northern states in Nigeria (where conditions are suitable for wheat cultivation) were delivered to 107,429 wheat farmers.

To facilitate this, the Nigerian government imported 6,750 metric tonnes (MT) of wheat seed from Mexico and recruited two additional ICT services providers to support the ATASP-1 ICT vendor who developed the agro-pocket portal.

In all it is expected that the wheat crop of 2023/2025 was around 150,000Ha, an estimated production of 600,000 tons of grain representing 10 per cent Nigeria’s wheat demand.

The Bank’s high level supervision mission of February 2024 observed a huge success of the programme in Jigawa State with respect to both acreages, over 35,000 hectares of wheat planted and the quality of the crop.

The AfDB, through its flagship project Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) is providing support to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security on production of early generation and certified wheat seeds and extension for the oncoming dry season wheat production.

To achieve this, the bank has created platforms for planning and discussions on two critical thematic areas. The groups are currently finalising action plans and budget for mobilisation of funds and early delivery of the seed and services in the 2024/5 wheat season.

The second phase of the dry season farming is planned to commence in March 2025. It will cover rice, maize and cassava. The bank targets to cultivate 250,000 hectares of land, reach 500,000 rice farmers and a yield of one million MT of rice.

On maize, it is targeting to cultivate 55,000 hectares, engage 110,000 farmers with an output of 165,000 metric tonnes of maize, and 35,000 hectares of cassava farm, engage 70,000 farmers and a yield of 525,000 MT.

The commencement of the dry season rice, maize and cassava is late in the southern part of the country. The Federal Government is now planning to combine the delivery of seed and inputs for both dry-season farming in the North and wet-season farming in the south concurrently.

The Federal Government intends to add additional funds to be able to cover these targets and also to increase its own subsidy exposure thereby reducing farmers’ contribution during the programme.

Expected outputs are another 600,000 tonnes of rice paddy (about 400,000 tonnes of milled rice) and 60,000 tonnes of maize by May/June and 315,000 tonnes of cassava roots by January/February 2025.

In the 2024 wet season, which started in April/May, NAGS-AP also supported 1.6 million smallholder farmers with seeds and fertiliser to plant 300,000 hectares of rice, 300,000 hectares of maize, 150,000 hectares of cassava and 50,000 hectares of soybean to produce 1.2 million tonnes of rice paddy (800,000 tonnes of milled rice), 900,000 tonnes of maize and 100,000 tonnes of soybean by October/November and 2.25 million tonnes of cassava roots by June/July 2025.

Food to be produced by NAGS-AP is estimated to be 2.6 million tonnes of cereals this year or eight per cent of the total cereal demand for Nigeria in 2024 and 2.56 million tonnes of cassava roots next year or eight percent of the total demand of cassava in the country, an estimated 35 million tonnes of roots to produce six million tonnes of garri and one million tonnes of cassava-based food products.

Agro-pocket system has been successfully tested and utilised in delivery seed and inputs for farmers. This is catalysing a wheat revolution in Nigeria. However, with careful planning, timely release of funds and disciplined delivery, further gains can be made that will go a long way to taming the high food price inflation that is as high as 40 percent year-on-year today.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has donated 2.15 million bags of fertiliser worth over N100 billion to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security. The inclusion of the fertiliser in the NAGS will allow the Federal Ministry to raise its ambition for the wet season to provide support on seeds and fertilizer to an additional two million farmers to plant 0.5 million hectares of rice and 0.5 million hectares of maize wet season, at 0.5 hectares per farmer.

This will increase food production and seven additional million tonnes of cereals, some 20 percent of national cereal demand. Large-scale support, to five million smallholder farmers annually over three years – 2013, 2014 and 2015 – has been achieved before under Dr Akinwumi Adesina as Minister of Agriculture.

Unfortunately, this was discontinued after 2015, drastically reducing Nigeria’s per capita food production and setting up the stage for the current food price crisis.

Copyright © 2022 Nigerian Tribune Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (
by Collins Nnabuife