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Nigeria inaugurates $1bn agriculture mechanization committee

The Nigerian  government has inaugurated an 18-member committee for implementation of Government’s Agriculture mechanisation programme called The Green Imperative Programme (GIP).
The Nigerian Minister Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono during the launch of an18-man committee in Abuja, said the programme was timely in view of the need to feed the Nigerian population estimated at 200 million, and other African countries that rely on Nigeria for food and seeds.
The $1.1 billion program would be funded by the Brazilian Government through a loan from the Deutsche Bank (DB), Development Bank of Brazil and Islamic Development Bank.
Nigeria is expected repay the loan at 3 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.
The program is expected to benefit about 100,000 young people directly and about 5 million indirectly.
The program is also designed to enable Nigeria acquire 10,000 units of tractors and 50,000 units of assorted implement and equipment for assembly in Nigeria.
Futhmore, the program was designed to ensure training of project beneficiaries for over 10 years and establishment of 780 service centres to assist small holder farmers prepare the soil, cultivate and harvest farm produce.
GIP was 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).
Nanono, who is also chairman of the committee, however, called for the need to prioritize  agricultural mechanisation in Nigeria, adding that there is no way a nation can about 200 million people and get surplus for agro allied industries.
The minister while lamenting that findings revealed that the country has only 7000 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.
“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.
“All these noise about this project we are launching today is aimed at only 10,000 tractors. So to even catch up with Kenya, we need to have 60,000 tractors, you can imagine the task before us”, the Minister noted


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