The federal government of Nigeria and the government of Brazil as of Thursday inaugurated $1.1 billion agricultural mechanization program that covers the entire agricultural value chain. 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. Osinbajo said that the project was a crucial component in the president’s signature focus on agriculture as the centerpiece of Nigeria’s economic diversification efforts.
Osinbajo said, “As a policy issue, we were clear that without mechanization at the bottom of the agriculture pyramid in Nigeria we would not be able to make the quantum leap in agriculture production capacity and create high-quality agriculture and agro-allied jobs. The program 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. 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 labor. Consequently, the average farmer is 60 years; this project changes all that.”
Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance, said the project would be implemented with a total loan package of 1.1billion dollar, largely from the Brazilian government. Ahmed said the loan would be disbursed in four tranches over a period of two years.
Earlier, 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 reducing the rate of poverty.