NIGERIA – The federal government of Nigeria has taken a US$1.1 billion loan from Brazil to boost agricultural sector and create 5 million jobs, reports Premium Times

The programme under the name “The Green Imperative” was inaugurated by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the Brazilian Ambassador to Nigeria, Ricardo Guerra de Araujo.

Osinbajo said that the initiative was a crucial landmark of the government’s commitment to focus on agriculture as the lynchpin of Nigeria’s economic diversification efforts.

“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,” said Osinbajo.

The vice president said the project was private-sector driven, pointing out that both Nigerian and Brazilian investors were committed to investing and working on the project.

Minister of finance, Mrs Ahmed said the initiative was designed to promote agricultural mechanisation, create employment opportunities for the energetic youth and help achieve food self-sufficiency.

“The project will be implemented with a total loan package of $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.

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,” explained Ahmed.

The minister said the project would be implemented in all of the 774 local government areas in Nigeria and was well designed to repay the loan facilities through its own proceeds and would not bring a burden on Nigeria taxpayers.

The Green Imperative project is also aimed at promoting the competitiveness of agricultural sector.