Govt Unveils U.S.$1.2 Billion Programme to Boost Agriculture in Nigeria

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The federal government Thursday unveiled “The Green Imperative,” a 10-year agricultural programme worth $1.2 billion and targeted at creating five million jobs and injecting $10 billion into the economy.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, and his counterpart at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, yesterday gave details about the scheme in a joint statement, they issued at a press conference in Abuja.

The project, according to the ministers is a Nigeria-Brazil bilateral agriculture development that will be implemented for over a period of five to 10 years.

According to the ministers, the funding will come from the Development Bank of Brazil (BNDES) and Deutsche Bank, with insurance provided by Brazilian Guarantees and Fund Managements Agency (ABGF) and the Islamic Corporation for Insurance of Export Credit (ICIEC) of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), and coordinated by Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV).

“The Buhari administration is set to revolutionise agriculture in Nigeria through a programme called ‘The Green Imperative, a Nigeria-Brazil Bilateral Agriculture Development Programme. It is the outcome of Nigeria’s decision, dating back to June 6, 2016, to enrol in Brazil’s Government-to-Government More Food International Programme (MFIP).

“Following that decision, and between June 2016 and December 2019, several high level ministerial and technical visits and exchanges have occurred between the two countries. During one of such visits, the Bilateral Protocol of Intention with the government of Brazil was signed in March 2017,” the ministers stated.

Explaining how the programme will revolutionise agriculture in Nigeria, the ministers said it would lead to the reactivation of six motor assembly plants in the six-geopolitical zones of the country for assembling tractors and other implements, with importation of the Completely Knocked Down (CKD) parts of about 5,000 tractors and numerous implements for local assembly annually for a period of 10 years.

The federal government added that the programme will also establish 142 agro-processing service centres for value addition, with one centre in each senatorial district; establishment of 632 mechanisation service centres to support primary production in the 774 Local Government Areas and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

They said: “This will create 774 service centres nationwide to mechanise our farming methods and process or add value to farm produce locally, leading to efficiency and eliminating post-harvest losses, thereby cutting down the cost of food all year round.

“The private sector operators will operate and manage all the service centres and the assembly plants. The programme will create about five million jobs and inject over $10 billion into the economy within 10 years.

“It will create sustainable supply chain of agricultural raw materials for our large manufacturing companies to source locally, thereby saving billions of US dollars in food-related forex. It will train about 100,000 extension workers within three years.”

Stressing the huge benefits of the agriculture programme to the nation, they explained that it will impact over 35 million persons nutritionally and economically, and revitalise the country’s research and extension service delivery through a five-year technology-package transfer component.

The federal government said the programme’s benefits included the transfer of technology from Brazil’s manufacturers and institutions to Nigeria.

“The programme design was jointly done by Nigeria and Brazil. The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development set up a high-level inter-ministerial committee for the bilateral programme design.

“In the course of the programme design, the Brazilian technical mission visited Nigeria and met with rural small-holder farmers. The Nigerian technical team also embarked on a study tour of three African countries: Ghana, Kenya and Senegal, where MFIP is being implemented to study their challenges as well as their successes or failures

“The Nigerian technical team has also visited the selected assembly plants in the six geopolitical zones to determine in-country capacity to handle the assembly of a CKD-based programme of this magnitude,” the ministers stated.

They said since 2015, the Buhari administration had been working hard to bring about irreversible change in many sectors and to diversify the economy away from oil.

They said the many “unprecedented programmes” embarked upon by the administration had touched the power sector, where timelines had been given for ending the age-long power supply problem; food security, especially the production of rice, a national staple, through the Anchor Borrower’s Programme; the unique Social Intervention Programme (SIP) and the infrastructural renewal project covering roads, bridges and rail.

The ministers said the federal government was committed to the project because of its positive impact on the country, calling on Nigerians to support and own it.

They explained that the money for the exercise would start coming in the next four weeks, through appropriation by the National Assembly.

Commenting on the sustainability of the project, Nanono said it was a private sector-thriving project and it would be impossible for anybody to hijack it, adding that it would attract young men and women back to farming.

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