The World Bank has approved a 700 million dollar credit from its International Development Association (IDA) for the Nigeria Agro-Climatic Resilience in Semi-Arid Landscapes (ACReSAL) Project.
It said this in a statement issued in Washington DC, USA on Thursday.
According to the bank, the project will increase the implementation of sustainable landscape management practices in northern Nigeria and strengthen the country’s long-term enabling environment for integrated climate-resilient landscape management.
It said that the productivity of major crops in Nigeria had been steadily declining over the past two decades, due partly to climate change, forcing an expansion of the area under agriculture and increased imports to meet the food needs of Nigeria’s growing population.
The World Bank added that persistent water shortages, especially in the extreme north, has continued to exacerbate land degradation, desertification and habitat loss.
“Resource shortages, violent conflict, outdated agricultural systems not adapted to changing dryland conditions, lack of access to finance, weak value chain linkages, an uncompetitive environment for agribusiness, and poor market access are other key barriers to increased agricultural productivity in Nigeria.
“Better environmental and water resources management and resilience against disaster and climate risks (largely water-related) are needed to sustain economic growth and protect the most vulnerable.”
The bank, however, said that in recent years, the Federal Government had established several initiatives in the agriculture sector to combat desertification including afforestation and reforestation programmes. Others are dissemination of proven agricultural technologies and sustainable agricultural practices and promotion of efficient energy sources.
It added that efforts to stop and reverse desertification were complicated by the need to feed a rapidly increasing population in a region where natural resources were dwindling and over 90 per cent of national food production depends on smallholder farmers who lack the capacity to increase food production without degrading land.