By Etuka Sunday
The Minister of Finance, Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed yesterday stated that the $ 1 billion loan facility under the ‘Green Imperative’, which is one of the products of the diversification initiatives of the Federal Government will create massive jobs, food security, food self-sufficiency in all the 774 Local Government Areas of the nation.
Ahmed stated this in a statement signed by the Special Adviser to the Minister of Finance on Media and Communications, Paul Ella Abechi, during official launch of the project by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
Expressing optimism about the positive results the loan will yield under the ‘Green Imperative’ initiative in the agric sector, she said there is no doubt that the project will transform economic landscape of the country.
She maintained that nothing will deter President Muhammadu Buhari from continuing with the diversification drive that is already yielding positive results within three years, especially through the agricultural sector.
She also commended the Vice President’s commitment towards securing the loan from Brazil following his personally held meetings with Team of Experts from Brazil and his strong support for the project which has made the launching of it a reality including the resilience demonstrated by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbe, who had personally led Nigerian delegations to Brazil to initiate and develop the project with the Brazilian ’think tank’ and relevant stakeholders.
According to her the ‘Green lmperative’ was designed to promote agricultural mechanization, create employment opportunities for the energetic youth and help achieve food self-sufficiency and added that more details about the project will be explained by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.
She said: “The project we are launching today will be implemented with a total loan package of US$1.1billion majorly from the Brazilian Government which will be disbursed in four tranches over a period of two years.
“l have no doubt that this project will help to ensure food self – sufficiency, create more employment opportunities for our teeming population and also help transform the economic landscape of Nigeria.
“It is pertinent to state here that greater percentage of the loan will be provided in kind through the supply of agricultural machineries and implements in form of Completely Knocked Down (CKD) parts.
“This arrangement is expected to reduce fiduciary risks and create more employment opportunities for our teeming youth and those that will be involved in assembling the machineries and implements.
“Another important benefit of the project is that its implementation will be purely private sector led in all its operations including the assembling of the machineries/ implements, operation of the service centres and the agro-processing centres.
“The project will be implemented in all the 774 Local Government Areas of the country in phases. Let me use this opportunity to sensitize the Nigerian private sector, youth and women to get ready for business. The selection of the participants in this project will be done on merit as our concern is nothing but the success of the project. We will ensure that participation is devoid of politics and any form of nepotism.”
The Minister also commended the Brazilian government’s support and commitment to the project.
“Let me at this point thank the Government and people of Brazil for their support and commitment to this project. Nigeria and Brazil have similar climatic and soil conditions that make Brazilian agricultural implements easily adaptable in Nigeria. I understand that a tractor manufactured in Brazil in 1946 is still in use till today.
“This is the kind of technology that we will need in this country. I do hope such rugged tractors are what you will deploy for this project. I will like to express my appreciation to other partners like the Deutche Bank and Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC) for their support in this project”, she stated.