By Steve Agbota
The World Bank and the French Development Agency (FDA) have set aside about $230 million to support the development of rural communities and modernisation of agriculture in four states across Nigeria.
The four states to benefit from the development fund are Adamawa, Enugu, Osun and Niger states respectively.
The development funding, which is under the second Rural Access and Mobility Project (RAMP-2) would have the World Bank and the FDA donating $170 million and $60 million respectively towards the project.
To develop the marketing of agricultural products, RAMP-2 contributes to the government’s Agriculture Transformation Agenda (ATA), which plans to enhance the competitiveness of high-value crops such as rice, cassava, sorghum and cocoa.
However, the project builds on the experience from the first Rural Access and Mobility Project (RAMP-1), which is rehabilitating more than 420 km of rural roads and 130 river crossings in Kaduna State.
RAMP-2, which was launched last week in Abuja would support rehabilitation, upgrading and maintenance of about 1,450 km of rural roads and building 65 river crossings.
According to the World Bank Country Director, Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, “agriculture remains the backbone of Nigeria’s rural economy and growth in the non-oil sector can be accelerated by developing roads that are crucial to boost agriculture productivity, access to health as well as education for rural communities.”
The innovative community-based road maintenance schemes would engage local population in the plan and operation of maintenance works, thus creating employment opportunities for both men and women living along the roads to be rehabilitated.
Meanwhile, FDA Country Director, Hubert Dognin, explained: “Special emphasis will be placed on the sustainability of the road investments through adequate maintenance, in partnership with states.”
While commenting on the support, Task Team Leader and World Bank Senior Infrastructure Economist, Mohammed Dalil Essakali, added: “The sooner these rural communities are provided with transport access under the project, the higher the chances that they will see real improvements in their access to social services and to opportunities to market their agriculture products and hence increase their income.”
RAMP-2 will close in December 2018. The credit is on standard International Development Association (IDA) terms, with a service charge of 0.75 per cent. The credit’s period of maturity is 35 years, including a 10-year period of grace.