Nigeria, Brazil Launch $1.1b Agricultural Programme

Nigeria and Brazil have launched a US$1.1billion Agricultural mechanisation programme that covers the entire Agricultural value chain.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo launched the initiative, tagged “The Green Imperative” at an event attended by the Braizilian Ambassador to Nigeria, Ricardo Guerra de Araujo with four Nigerian governors, ministers and other government officials at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development says the objective of the deal “is to develop Nigerian agriculture based on a sustainable private business model, through a food value chain approach, involving a full technology package transfer that will cover all stages, from agricultural production to industrial processing and marketing.”

The ministry also said that “the Green Imperative project is oriented towards actions aimed at promoting the competiveness of agricultural sector, and will be focused essentially on four guidelines.”

Speaking at the launch of the programme, Professor Osinbajo said that the project is a crucial component in the President’s signature focus on agriculture as the centerpiece of Nigeria’s economic diversification efforts.

“As a policy issue we were clear that without mechanization at the bottom of the Agric pyramid in Nigeria we would not be able to make the quantum leap in agriculture production capacity and create high quality Agric and agro allied jobs.”

He said the programme was designed as “a combination of service centers where technical capacity and training will occur, to the local assembly of tractors and other agriculture machine   and processing centers where agro processing will be done.”

Osinbajo said major dividend of the project would be the thousands of quality jobs for the Nigerian youth.

“One of the reasons why more  young people  especially those who do not have rural, farming backgrounds do not warm up to agriculture is really the fact that farm  equipments are archaic, hoes and cutlasses  and of course this  requires much physical labour.

 “Consequently the average farmer is 60 years; this project changes all that.”

The vice president said the project is private-sector driven, pointing out that both Nigerian and Brazilian investors were committed to investing and working on the project.

Significant Landmark
Speaking at the launch of programme, Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, described the project as a significant landmark in the revolution of agriculture in Nigeria.

She said the project would be implemented with “a total loan package of US$1.1billion, largely from the Brazilian government.”

Mrs. Ahmed said the loan would be disbursed in four tranches over a period of two years.

“It is imperative for me to state here that the greater percentage of this loan would provided in kind through the supply of agricultural machinery and implementation in the form of Completely Knocked Down parts, CKDs.

“This arrangement is expected to reduce the fiduciary risk and create more employment opportunities for our teeming youths and those that will be involved in assembling the machineries as well as operating the implements.”

The minister said the project would be implemented in all of the 774 local government areas in Nigeria.

She said the selection of the participants in the project would be based “strictly on merit as our concern is the success of the project.”

Mrs. Ahmed said the project is designed to repay the loan facilities through its own proceeds and would not bring a burden on Nigeria taxpayers.

In his remarks, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, said machines as well as spare parts would be available under the scheme.

Earlier, the Brazilian Ambassador to Nigeria, Ricardo Guerra de Araujo, said the initiative would benefit the whole of the Nigerian economy.

According to him, the Green Imperative would create about five million new jobs across the agriculture value chain and reducing the rate of poverty.