NIGER – African Development Bank Group has approved funding of US$127.8 million to Niger through the African Development Fund.
The funds will be used for a project to open up access to farming and pastoral lands in the east of the country, along its border with Nigeria.
The Zinder region in eastern Niger, where the project will be implemented, is an area of mixed farming where stock breeding is combined with widespread crop cultivation.
According to the development finance institution, the package comprises a loan of US$71 million and a grant of US$56.8 million.
It will support farming value chains with construction of a farmers’ center and stock-vaccination centres, installation of dairy units, etc. targeting majorly women and young people.
The integrated project will also open up the production areas of Hamdara-Wacha-Dungass on the Nigerian border with the primary goal of improving a 110-kilometer road.
This is a key route joining inter-state areas that will contribute to improving transport links to areas with considerable potential for agriculture, forestry, and livestock farming.
Meanwhile, the project also entails improving the Hamdara-Wacha-Dungass-Nigerian border road, including environmental protection measures, associated improvements, particularly the restoration and construction of socioeconomic infrastructure, the construction of 150 kilometres of associated rural roads, and five kilometres of roadways in the town of Dungass.
African Development Bank Director General for West Africa, Marie Laure Akin-Olugbade, said, “This is one of the priority projects within the national transport strategy.
“It is intended to maximize the benefits gained from the wealth of resources and opportunities offered by this region, which will amplify its impact on development, improve the resilience of those living there, and contribute, through the growth it generates, to the transformation of the rural setting.”
AfDB to raise US$1 billion to boost staples production in Africa
In other related news, AfDB has announced a US$1 billion plan to help the continent increase its supply of wheat and other staples such as rice and soybeans.
The financier is raising the funds to help 40 million African farmers utilize climate-resilient technologies and increase their output of heat-tolerant wheat varieties and other crops.
This initiative comes in a context where many African wheat-importing countries are facing an increase in their cost of purchasing the cereal on the world market with the disruption of trade linked to the war between Russia and Ukraine.
Wheat imports account for about 90% of Africa’s US$4 billion trade with Russia and nearly half of the continent’s US$4.5 billion trade with Ukraine.
“We are going to be really ramping up our efforts to mobilize that money,” said AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina.
“If there was ever a time that we needed to really drastically raise food production in Africa, for Africa’s food security and to mitigate the impact of this food crisis arising from this war, it is now.”
The war in Ukraine and sweeping sanctions imposed on Russia have upended grain shipments at a time when global stockpiles were already tight, raising the risk of a full-blown hunger crisis.
Together the two nations produce more than a quarter of global wheat exports, and the United Nations has warned that already high food costs could surge another 22% as the fighting stifles trade and cuts future production.
The risks are particularly acute in Africa, where about 283 million people were already going hungry before the onset of the war.
The lender’s plan aims to increase the production of wheat, rice, soybeans and other crops to feed about 200 million Africans.