Reps Probe Use of Over $1bn Donated for Agric Projects

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By Dipo Olowookere

The House of Representatives on Wednesday demanded for a thorough investigation into how the over $1 billions donated by international donor agencies for agricultural projects in the country.

At the session yesterday, a member of the House, Mr Awaji-Inombek Abiante, lamented that despite the huge funds sunk into the sector, there were still several noticeable setbacks across the country.

In his motion seconded by Mr Isiaka Raji, the federal lawmaker said the agencies involved should be called to state exactly how they used these funds for.

During the debate, the green chamber said it was aware that over the years, federal government has been partnering and acquiring loans and grants from different donor agencies such as the World Bank, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the United Nations (UN), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the International Development Agency (IDA) to mention a few, with a view to improving agricultural production in the country;

The lower chamber of the parliament further said over the years, over $1 billion of the donors’ funds have been spent on various agricultural projects in Nigeria by the three-tiers of government.

It specifically said since 1985, IFAD has financed about 11 agricultural projects in the country with $509.62 million, while several millions of dollars have also been committed to the implementation of FADAMA project by the World Bank since 1993.

The Reps said these agricultural projects were put in place with the aim of assisting Nigerian farmers, especially those in the rural areas with the necessary funds needed to improve their agricultural venture, thus meeting the food demand of the fast-growing population of the nation, guarantee food security, reduce oil dependency, diversify and grow the economy.

The second arm of the National Assembly expressed worry that despite the laudable objectives of these agricultural projects and the humongous financial contributions of the international donors over the years, the country was still-grappling with the problem of food sufficiency and farmers prosperity.

The lawmakers observed that the volume of funds channelled to Nigeria’s agricultural sector through these donor funding projects over the years is so enormous that one wonders if the resources are well utilized and accounted for, especially when measured against observed results from the quantum of the funds.

They submitted that a thorough investigation of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and its parastatals in charge of the administration of all agricultural donor funding projects will help in unearthing the problems that are associated with the inabilities of the projects to achieve its desired goals.

Consequently, the House of Reps mandated its Committee on Agricultural Production and Services to investigate the administration and performance of all donor funding agricultural projects with a view to unearthing the problems associated with its inabilities to achieve its set objectives and report back within six weeks for further legislative action.

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