Federal Government targets five million jobs in $1.1 billion agricultural programme.
The Federal Government is planning to create about five million jobs for Nigerians with the launch of ‘The Green Imperative’ agricultural mechanization programme with a $1.1 billion loan from the Brazilian government.
Specifically, the programme, a Brazil–Nigeria bilateral project launched at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, is conceived to enhance the agricultural sector through the provision of modern machinery and implements.
The $1.1 billion partnership will include 10,000 tractors to be assembled in Nigeria and more than 707 centers to be established to train about 10,000 Nigerians.
Stakeholders say the partnership is coming as part of the Federal Government’s plan to address key agricultural gaps, including the inability to meet domestic food requirements and the country’s inability to satisfy growing export demands in particular areas of quantity and quality.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who officially performed the launch, said the ‘Green Imperative’ was aimed at boosting agricultural production in Nigeria.
“We cannot bring our nation out of poverty without investment in agriculture. Also, the share number of young people coming of age will not only need to be fed but employed. They want dignified jobs with decent pay.”
Osinbajo described the programme as a game changer.
“Today, we are producing paddy rice as much as we need because of mechanization of agriculture. The only way to make the quantum leap required in our economy is what we are doing today with this project, the Green Imperative.
“One of the reasons young people don’t warm up to agriculture is because it is not mechanized, but that will change with this project.”
He said with the Green Imperative, “We have made a significant difference in creating food sufficiency and decent jobs. We have ensured that this will be private sector driven.”
The Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, urged youths in the country to seek empires and wealth through agriculture, adding that having another address other than politics would give them a voice in the society.
“With Brazilian support, we will get to where we want to get to. Importation alone does not make a country great, production does. By importation, we also imported poverty and unemployment, but this administration is set to reverse all that. Work is prayer in action.”
Ogbe assured the Brazilian team of a friendly environment. “There is nothing wrong in borrowing if you use it well, it is when you waste what you borrow that you invite disaster.”
Minister or Finance, Zainab Ahmed, said the launch of the programme, which she described as one of the products of the diversification initiatives of the government, was designed to promote agricultural mechanization, create employment opportunities for our energetic youth and help achieve food self- sufficiency.
“The project we are launching today 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.
“It is pertinent to state here that greater percentage of the loan will be provided in kind through the supply of agricultural machinery 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 machinery and implements.”