James Emejo in Abuja
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono has inaugurated an 18-man committee for the implementation of the $1.1 billion agriculture mechanisation programme, also referred to as the Green Imperative. The minister chairs the committee.
He said the project, which seeks to prioritise mechanisation, was being funded by the Brazilian government through a credit facility from the Deutshe Bank (DB), Development Bank of Brazil and Islamic Development Bank.
He said the loan was expected to be repaid at three per cent interest rate over a period of 15 years for Development Bank of Brazil and seven years, including two years moratorium for the Deutsche Bank.
Speaking during the inauguration of the committee, Nanono said
100, 000 young people were expected to benefit directly and five million indirectly from the intervention.
He added that it was designed to enable Nigeria acquire 10, 000 units of tractors and 50, 000 units of assorted implement and equipment for assembly in the country, adding that it would enhance the mechanisation of agricultural specialised extension services and agro-processing in the 774 local government areas and the six area councils in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The minister noted that the programme was timely, in view of the need to feed the Nigerian population estimated at 200 million, as well as other African countries which depend on the country for food.
He argued that there was no way a county could feed about 200 million people and get surplus for agro allied industries without access to mechanisation services.
He therefore lamented a report which had shown that the country currently only possessed 7, 000 functional tractors.
Nanono, nonetheless, expressed optimism that the programme, which would have service centers in 632 local government areas and 140 processing centres, would achieve its mandate, in view of the dire need to boost production in the country.
The scheme will train beneficiaries for over 10 years and establish 780 service centers to assist smallholder farmers to prepare the soil, cultivate and harvest farm produce.
Nanono recently revealed that the federal government was reviewing the nation’s agricultural policy. This, according to him, would help revitalise existing agricultural policies in order to meet the needs and aspirations of President Muhammadu Buhari in diversifying the economy, using agriculture as a driving force.
He noted that the ministry was aware of the achievements recorded by the CDA since its inception in 2012.
He said such achievements would not have been possible without the tremendous support from the university’s management and staff.