Inaugurates 18-man implementation cttee
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, weekend, disclosed that 5.1 million youth will benefit from Federal Government’s $1.1 billion agriculture mechanization programme, called the ‘Green Imperative Programme’.
This was made known by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, while inaugurating an 18-man implementation committee, whiling emphasizing that the government is committed to mechanized farming across the country to boost food production and security as the country’s population is over 200 million and the dependence of other neighbouring Africa countries on food from Nigeria.
According to Nanono who chairs the committee said the Green Imperative Programme is estimated at $1.1 billion, which will be funded by the Brazilian Government through a loan from the Deutsche Bank (DB), Development Bank of Brazil and Islamic Development Bank.
He further explained that the loan will be repaid at a 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 DB.
He said: “The programme, which is expected to benefit 100,000 young people directly and 5 million indirectly, is designed to enable Nigeria to acquire 10,000 units of tractors and 50,000 units of assorted implement and equipment for assembly in Nigeria.
“It is also meant to ensure training of project beneficiaries for over 10 years and establishment of 780 service centres to assist smallholder farmers prepare the soil, cultivate and harvest farm produce.
“GIP is further designed to enhance agricultural mechanisation specialised extension services and agro-processing in the 774 local government areas and the six area councils in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
However, the Minister also decried the abysmal 7,000 functional tractors across the country, said with the move by the government there will be a boost in the country’s tractors with service centres in 632 local government areas and 140 processing centres, hence will bring about a quantum leap in the sector for greater food production.
“We have only 7,000 functional tractors in this country. We have only seven tractors by 100 square kilometres. Compare that with Kenya that has 27 tractors by 100 square kilometres. The standard is 127 per square kilometres. So, you can imagine the task before us”, he said.