The governments of Nigeria and Brazil has signed a $1.1bn pact on agricultural mechanization programme.
Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo inaugurated the initiative, tagged “The Green Imperative” at an event attended by the Brazilian ambassador to Nigeria, Ricardo Guerra de Araujo.
In his remarks Osinbajo said that the project was a crucial component in the president’s signature focus on agriculture as the centrepiece of Nigeria’s economic diversification efforts.
He said, “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.
“The programme was designed as a combination of service centres where technical capacity and training will occur, to the local assembly of tractors and other agriculture machine and processing centres where agro-processing will be done.
“One of the reasons more young people especially those who do not have rural, farming backgrounds do not warm up to agriculture is really the fact that farm equipment is archaic, hoes and cutlasses and of course this requires much physical labour,” Osinbajo added.
Speaking further, Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, said the project would be implemented with “a total loan package of $1.1billion USD, largely from the Brazilian government.”
Ahmed said the loan would be disbursed in four tranches over a period of two years.
She said, “It is imperative for me to state here that the greater percentage of this loan would be 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 machinery as well as operating the implements,” she added.
Earlier, Brazalian Ambassador to Nigeria, Guerra de Araujo said the initiative would benefit the whole of the Nigerian economy.
According to him, ‘The Green Imperative’ will create about five million new jobs across the agriculture value chain and is expected to reduce the rate of poverty in the countries.