Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono

Green Imperative:  Minister inaugurates committee on  $1.1b Agric programme

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono has inaugurated the Green Imperative Programme (GIP) Committee, stating that the Programme will aid in developing an agricultural based private business model through a food value chain approach. The initiative is expected to involve a full technology package transfer that will cover all stages, from agricultural production to industrial processing and marketing.

Speaking during the inauguration ceremony in Abuja, over the weekend, the Minister noted that the 18-Man committee is pivotal to the enhancement of agricultural mechanization in Nigeria and will further develop an agricultural based model that would be technology driven.

The Minister , who is also the Chairman of the committee, said the programme “is going to be one of the most important agricultural projects ever undertaken by any administration since it focuses on feeding a population of over 200 million people”.

He also informed that the programme would be private sector driven and that government would only create the enabling environment and offer assistance where necessary. According to him, ”this is going to be one of the most important agriculture projects ever taken by any government in the history. It is revolutionary and the government is committed to the success of the project’’.

 He pointed out that “Agricultural mechanization must be a top priority in Nigeria, whether government or private sector driven, because without mechanization, there is no way we can feed about 200 million people and get surplus for the agro allied industries.”

He urged the small agro -allied companies and agricultural cooperative societies to take advantage of the opportunity created by government to be part of the agricultural revolution by investing in the GIP initiative.

The Minister expressed optimism that the programme, which would have service centers in 632 local government areas and 140 processing centers, would achieve its mandate in view of the dire need to boost production in the country.

In his welcome address, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Dr Abdulkadir Mu’azu, said the initiative would not only create employment but alleviate poverty and further ensure actualization of the diversification effort of government.

In his presentation, the Secretary of the  Committee, Engr. Abdullahi Abubakar, said the programme estimated at $1.1 billion, is to be funded by the Brazilian Government through a loan from the Deutsche Bank (DB), Brazilian Exim Bank (BNDES) and Islamic Development Bank.

Engr Abubakar explained that the loan is expected to be repaid at 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 Dutch Bank.

The programme would expectedly benefit 100,000 young people entrepreneurs directly and five million indirectly. It is designed to enable Nigeria 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 centers to assist small holder farmers prepare the soil, cultivate and harvest farm produce.

Ezeaja Ikemefuna

For: Director, Information (FMARD)