Jonathan pledges single-digit interest rate financing for agriculture in 2013

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Abuja – President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday promised that Nigerian farmers would get single digit interest rate financing from next year.

The Minister of Agriculture, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, said the President made the promise at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting held at the State House, Abuja.

Briefing State House correspondents after the meeting which lasted for over eight hours, Adeshina said the council had devoted better parts of the meeting on progress reports on the agriculture sector.

“The President said that he is committed to making sure that Nigerian farmers in 2013 get single digit interest rate financing.

“Whether you are a seed company, an agro dealer, a processor or any unit of the agriculture sector, you will benefit from the facility,’’ he said.

The minister disclosed that leading institutions around the world had thrown their full weight behind the agricultural transformation in Nigeria.

“The World Bank is providing 500 million dollars to support the transformation agenda. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is providing 80 million dollars.

“USAID is supporting rice and cassava with 60 million dollars, the ADB is going to put in 650 million dollars while the Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation has chosen Nigeria for health and agriculture and they are providing five million dollars in technical support assistance.

“The Ford Foundation in New York is giving N650,000 dollars for technical assistance and the  U.K. Government’s DFID is putting in 37 million pounds to back the transformation agenda in agriculture,’’ he said.

Adesina also said that the President had set up Eminent Persons Group of Global leaders to help drive the agricultural transformation agenda forward.

According to him, the people on the group include, Bill Gate, former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, the President of ADB, Dr Donald Kabirueka and the President of IFAD, Dr Kamnayo Nwanze.

He said the World Economic Forum in Davos which would hold in January, 2013, had selected the Agricultural Transformation in Nigeria as a focal point for the meeting.

Speaking on the achievements made in the past 12 months, Adesina said the ministry had added 8.1 million metric tons of food to the domestic food supply.

He disclosed that an estimated 2.2 million jobs were created in the agricultural sector.

Adesina said the jobs were basically created in the rural areas and had assisted in stemming rural urban drift.

According to him, the ministry has been able to leverage about eight billion dollars of private sector commitment in the sector.

“AGCO , the world leading manufacturer of tractor is investing 100 million dollars in Nigeria.

“As we speak, they have started their farm training centre in Ibadan which will employ 3,500 agricultural graduates,’’ he said.

The Minister of Transport, Sen. Idris Umar, who also addressed State House correspondents, said council also approved contract for the feasibility studies of two new standard rail lines.

“The contracts which will be awarded to consultants are the coastal rail line which will  take off from Benin to Sapela, Warri, Yenego, Port Harcourt, Calabar, Akampka, Ikom and Obudu Cattle Ranch with 673km at a feasibility cost of N334 million.

“The second rail line of 280km stands at a feasibility cost of N144 million and it will be from Ajaokuta through Lokoja, Abaji to Abuja.’’

He added that the scope of work to be carried out by the consultants was extensive and would include among others, a detailed survey of the alignment of the tracks and provision of a platform for private, public partnership on the project. (NAN)

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