IFC invests $6m in food production

The International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group, has announced a $6m investment in Saro AgroSciences Limited, a leading distributor of herbicides and insecticides in Nigeria.

According to a statement from IFC, the investment will support the expansion of the company’s distribution capacity and increase access to agrochemicals for over 500,000 smallholder farmers by 2016.

IFC’s loan would help Saro AgroSciences to increase its distribution network from 82 to 300 outlets across Nigeria, and widen its technical assistance programme for farmers to increase their yields, it stated.

The project cost was estimated at $12.2m, which would be financed with IFC’s loan and $6.2m Saro AgroSciences fund, it added.

The Managing Director, Saro AgroSciences, Mr. Oluwole Adeyegbe, said, “Saro AgroSciences is committed to developing agriculture in Nigeria and in other countries in West and Central Africa by providing safe and reliable crop protection and products for farmers.

“IFC’s support enables us to fulfil our commitment. Saro AgroSciences, as a leader, is therefore further strengthened and positioned to help more farmers to increase crop productivity, enhance food security, and boost economic development.”

Agriculture represents over 40 per cent of Nigeria’s economic activity, and is the country’s largest employer.

The sector has suffered from a lack of investment, resulting in yields of less than half its potential. Agriculture is expected to continue to be the main driver of growth in the short to medium terms, especially through agricultural transformation, according to the statement.

The statement by the IFC Vice-President, sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, said, Mr. Jean Philippe Prosper, said, “Supporting agribusiness is a key priority for IFC in Africa as it generates employment and promotes economic development. IFC will help Saro AgroSciences to implement environmental and social standards in the crop protection sector and reduce the country’s food import bill, which is one of the highest in Africa.”

Herbicides and insecticides are essential for improving agricultural productivity by managing pests, fungi, weeds and diseases that destroy crops.

Nigeria is a net importer of agricultural produce with a food import bill of about $6.25bn annually. Population increases combined with a rapidly rising middle class are putting a heightened focus on improving the productivity of Nigeria’s agricultural sector.

The IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector.

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