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FG begins implementation of $1.1b agricultural programme

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The Federal Government has flagged off the implementation of the $1.1b agricultural mechanisation programme, known as the Green Imperative programme (GIP). 

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, while inaugurating an 18-member implementation committee on Friday in Abuja, said the project was funded by the Brazilian Government through a credit facility from the Deutshe Bank (DB), Development Bank of Brazil and Islamic Development Bank.He said the loan was 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 Deutsche Bank. 

The programme, which is expected to benefit 100, 000 young people directly and 5 million indirectly, is designed to enable Nigeria acquire 10, 000 units of tractors and 50, 000 units of assorted implement and equipment for assembly in the country.

It is also meant to ensure training of beneficiaries for over 10 years and establishment of 780 service centres to assist smallholder farmers prepare the soil, cultivate and harvest farm produce.Nanono added that the GIP is further designed to enhance agricultural mechanisation specialised extension services and agro-processing in the 774 local councils and the six area councils in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The Minister said the programme was timely, in view of the need to feed the Nigerian population estimated at 200 million, as well other African countries, which rely on the nation.

He however, stressed the need to prioritise agricultural mechanisation, adding that there is no way a nation can feed about 200 million people and get surplus for agro allied industries without access to mechanisation services.

The minister while lamenting that findings revealed that the country have only 7, 000 functional tractors, expressed optimism that the programme, which would have service centres in 632 local government areas and 140 processing centres, would achieve its mandate, in view of the dire need to boost production in the country.

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