4000 tons of fertilizers to boost rice production in Niger

NIAMEY, November 19, 2008-In an effort to relieve pressures on its economy as a result of the global food and fuel crisis, Niger on 7 November received four thousand tons of fertilizers to increase local rice production.

The boost was part of a US $7 million (approximately CFAF 3.08 billion) grant from the International Development Association (IDA), which was approved by the World Bank under its Global Food Response Program.

The $1.2 billion Global Food Response Program (GFRP) - the World Bank's fast-track food crisis initiative - was created in May 2008 to rapidly disburse assistance to countries hardest hit by the food crisis.

The fertilizers, will be sold through rice cooperatives to avoid speculation, and the revenue collected will be repaid to a food security fund that operates under Niger's national scheme for food crisis prevention and management (Dispositif national de Prévention et de Gestion des crises alimentaires).

Madani M. Tall, the World Bank's Country Director for Niger, Côte d'Ivoire, Mauritania, Togo and Benin, attended the handover in Niamey on November 5-8, 2008. He was accompanied by Niger's minister of agricultural development and Ousmane Diagana, the World Bank's Country Manager for Niger.

In addition to the food crisis and its affect on Niger, Tall discussed issues related to good governance during two separate meetings with President Mamadou Tandja and Prime Minister Seyni Oumarou.

He also met with World Bank project leaders, in charge of the Bank's operations in Niger and, along with Diagana, conducted an assessment of the progress of projects and programs financed by the Bank.

Tall held working sessions with the ministers in charge of economic matters and agricultural development, as well as with members of the Finance Committee of the National Assembly. Talks with the Minister of Finance Ali Lamine Zeine focused on ongoing reforms and the next budgetary support operation (DPL3), which will focus particularly on improving the business climate.

Tall held separate talks with the head of the national electric company of Niger focused on the future of the company and the country's supply of electricity, taking into account new challenges in access to energy resources and a changing economic situation.

At the end of his stay Madani M. Tall expressed overall satisfaction with the progress of the portfolio of the World Bank in Niger. He also saluted the commitment of authorities at the highest level to good governance and transparency in management, and their pledge to vigorously pursue the fight against corruption.

This year a number of projects have been approved to broaden and strengthen the Bank's portfolio in Niger. These include Phase 2 of the Community Action Program, the Local Infrastructure Development Project, the Transport Sector Support Program, and the Emergency Food Crisis Response Program.

These projects-together with an agro pastoral products exports program that is currently being negotiated-go a long way in showing the vitality of the cooperation between the World Bank and the Government of Niger, Tall said.