By Soni Daniel
The Federal Government, yesterday, announced details of its ambitious agricultural programme, which it is undertaking with $1.2 billion loan support from Brazil, saying the project would inject $10 billion into the economy, create five million new jobs and empower no fewer than 35 million Nigerians nutritionally and economically.
Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and his Agriculture counterpart, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, unveiled the details of the agricultural programme at a briefing in Abuja.
Mohammed said: “This programme 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 cost of food all year round.
“Additionally, private sector operators will operate and manage all the service centres and the assembly plants and it will create about five million jobs and inject over $10 billion into the economy within 10 years.
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“The Green Imperative will revolutionalise agriculture in Nigeria within a 10-year period that it is expected to be implemented.
“The stage is now set for an agricultural revolution that will strengthen food security, create massive jobs, transfer technology, revive or reinvigorate many assembly plants, strengthen the economy, save scarce resources, mechanize farming and lead to the emergence of value-added agriculture, among other benefits.”
On his part, Nanono explained that unlike other agricultural programmes in the past, which failed, the present administration would ensure the success of the Green Imperative, which he said, would be private sector-driven and devoid of any form of political interference.
Nanono said that the project had become imperative to enable Nigeria to mechanically cultivate more of its vast arable land, which has been under cultivated with only 34 million hectares yearly yielding between 1.2 to 1.6 tonnes per hectare but which can be significantly improved with mechanisation as is the case in neighbouring African countries.