NAIROBI - The World Bank said on Monday it had approved $90 million in loans for agricultural projects in three East African nations.

The $30 million each for Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania -- where agriculture plays a dominant role in the local economies -- was approved last week, the bank said in a statement.

It will support the three countries to strengthen and scale up regional cooperation in generation of technology, training and dissemination programs for regional priority commodities. These include dairy, cassava, rice and wheat, it said.

The bank said agriculture accounts for two-fifths of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in East Africa and is the primary source of income for more than two-thirds of the population.

It is key to poverty reduction and better livelihoods for the people of three countries-which have a combined population of nearly 160 million, it said.

The money will be channeled through national research programmes.