Nigeria plans to develop more than 100 agro-processing centers across the country with the help of Brazil, two top officials said this week, as part of government efforts to revolutionize the under-tapped agricultural sector and diversify foreign revenue sources away from oil.
The projects, spread across the country’s six geopolitical zones, are part of the Green Imperative program, a joint Nigerian-Brazilian agricultural mechanization scheme launched by the current administration. Upon completion, all equipment required for processing, drying, packaging, storage, and marketing of agro commodities will be manufactured at the agro-processing centers.
The $1.2 billion program is to be implemented over a period of 5-10 years, information minister Lai Mohammed said in a recent joint press conference with the minister of agriculture Saba Nanono. Funding will be provided by the Brazilian government through a credit facility from the Deutsche Bank, Development Bank of Brazil, and Islamic Development Bank while Brazilian Guarantees, Funds Management Agency, and Islamic Corporation for Insurance of Export Credit will provide insurance.
The goal is to solve the lack of mechanization services in the agricultural sector, thereby maximizing the productivity of smallholder farms. Reports indicate there are only 7, 000 functional tractors in Nigeria – a country with the need to feed a population estimated at 200 million, as well as other reliant African countries, particularly in the western region.
The program will be private sector-driven with the government playing the role of guaranteeing the loan, Nanono said. It is expected to benefit 100,000 young people directly and 5 million indirectly and is designed to enable Nigeria to acquire 10,000 units of tractors and 50,000 units of assorted implement and equipment for assembly in the country.
More so, the initiative is projected to inject over $10 billion into Africa’s largest economy within 10 years as well as impact 35 million persons “nutritionally and economically,” Mohammed said.
The President Muhammadu Buhari administration since 2015 has made transforming the agricultural sector one of its key mandates while championing diversification of the economy away from oil. The government has embarked on several initiatives aimed at achieving this goal, one of which is the Anchor Borrower’s Programme.