IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, recently announced a $6 million investment in Saro AgroSciences Ltd., a leading distributor of herbicides and insecticides in Nigeria. 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 will help Saro AgroSciences increase its distribution network from 82 to 300 outlets across Nigeria, and widen its technical assistance program for farmers so they can increase their yields. The Project cost is estimated at $12.2 million, which will be financed with IFC’s loan and $6.2 million equity from Saro AgroSciences.
Oluwole Adeyegbe, Managing Director, Saro AgroSciences, 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 fulfill our commitment. Saro AgroSciences, as a leader, is therefore further strengthened and positioned to help more farmers increase crop productivity, enhance food security, and boost economic development.”
Agriculture represents over 40 percent 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 term, especially through agricultural transformation.
Jean Philippe Prosper, IFC Vice President, Sub Sahara Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, said, “Supporting agribusiness is a key priority for IFC in Africa as it generates employment and promotes economic development. IFC will help Saro AgroSciences, 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 $6.25 billion annually. Population increases combined with a rapidly rising middle class are putting a heightened focus on improving the productivity of Nigeria’s agricultural sector.