The federal government in effort to deepen farmers’ access to mechanization in the agriculture sector has disclosed its plan to begin implementation of the $1.1 billion green imperative program to be funded through the Brazilian government loan.
The Green imperative program which was launched by the vice president, Yemi Osinbajo in January 2019 emanated from the More food international program of the Brazilian government with the aim to strengthen the productive capacity of smallholder farmers through provision of tractors.
Abdulahi Abubakar, Deputy Director, Mechanization department of the ministry of Agriculture and rural development, speaking at the inauguration of the implementation committee of the Green imperative program on Friday, said that the program is targeted at developing the agriculture sector on a sustainable private business model.
“The objective of the proposed project in Nigeria is to further develop our agriculture based on a sustainable model, through the food value chain approach, involving full technology package transfer that will cover all stages, from agricultural production o industrial processing and marketing”.
“Under this arrangement, the Brazilian government is committed to funding the project with a loan of $1.1 billion from three banks namely; Deutsche bank, BNDES and Islamic development bank at 3 percent interest rate over a period of 15 years”.
Abubakar speaking further said that the project is timely as it is designed with various packages which includes a minimum of 10,000 units of tractors, 50,000 units of assorted implement and equipment for assembly within the country, training of project beneficiaries for over 10 years.
Other packages included in the project are; establishment of 780 service centres within the country that will empower small holder farmer in farm best practices as well as benefit 100,000 youths directly and impact 5 million Nigerians indirectly.
He said “The Brazil government has intimated of its plans to bring a team of experts to Nigeria for a duration of 5 years to train local farmers and entrepreneurs on agriculture and framing. As part of the plan, a factory will be set up within the country to assemble farming machinery”.
“A review of the first tranche offer letter of $165.415m (Euro 150 million) received by the federal ministry of finance is on-going, the next step will be to set a multi MDA implementation team, sensitize stakeholders on selection process as well as unveil the guidelines for competitive selection of private sector operators”, he said.
Sabo Nanono, minister of agricultural and rural development in his remark said that promoting access to mechanized farming is a priority for the Nigeria government as it in order to meet the demand of providing food for the rising population.
The Minister further said that the government is committed to increasing the yield of farmers through mechanization adding that about 60,000 tractors is need to adequately meet the demand of the Nigerian farmers.
He said “Nigeria is a country with over 200 million people and is estimated rise to 400 million in the nearest future, there is no way we can feed ourselves and provide for agro allied industries without mechanization”.
“The penetration of agriculture mechanization is very low, this collaboration with the Brazilian government is a welcome idea and everyone have the responsibility of making it a success”.
“This model has successfully worked in other countries like Mozambique, Ghana, Senegal and Zimbabwe which are smaller countries, i see no reason why we cannot make it wok here. we all must be committed to promoting the development of the sector”.
Abdulkadir Mua’zu, Permanent secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in his remark said that the project is coming as a result of the demand for mechanization as a tool to scale up food production in the country.
He said that there is need to change the narrative as majority of the farm work are still being done manually, which may hinder the nation’s ability to meet the demand of its population.
He said, “Manual labor is characterized by high cost of labor, inefficiency and wastage, rendering the sector less attractive”.
“The need for the implementation of this project is necessary to make the agriculture sector the main driver of the economy diversification agenda of this government”.