The Federal Government has inaugurated an 18-man committee for the implementation of the $1.1bn agriculture mechanization scheme known as the Green Imperative Programme.

Speaking at the inauguration in Abuja, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono noted that the GIP would be funded by the Brazilian government through a loan from the Deutshe Bank, Development Bank of Brazil and Islamic Development Bank.

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development stated that the programme would benefit 100,000 young people directly and five million indirectly, adding that it was designed to enable Nigeria to acquire 10,000 units of tractors and 50,000 units of assorted implement and equipment to be assembled in Nigeria.

The FMARD explained that the programme planned to train its beneficiaries for over 10 years and establish 780 service centres to assist smallholder farmers to prepare the soil, cultivate and harvest farm produce. It was further explained that the loan is to be repaid at three per cent interest rate over a period of 15 years for the Development Bank of Brazil and seven years including two years’ moratorium for the Deutshe Bank.

Nanono, who chairs the committee, said the programme was timely in view of the need to feed the Nigerian population estimated at 200 million as well other African countries relying on Nigeria.

However, the minister lamented that findings revealed that the country had only 7,000 functional tractors and expressed optimism that the programme, which would have service centres in 632 local government areas and 140 processing centres, would achieve its mandate in view of the dire need to boost production across the country.

According to the minister, we have only 7,000 functional tractors in this country. Which means that we have only 7 tractors by 100 square kilometres. Compare that with Kenya that has 27 tractors by 100 square kilometres.