• Friday, April 12, 2024
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BusinessDay

Niger sets pace for agric mechanisation, partners 4 states

Akwa Ibom moves to partner entrepreneurs of food security

…as Tinubu inaugurates cutting edge technology

Nigeria’s quest for food security received a big boost on Monday as President Bola Tinubu flagged off Agricultural Mechanization Programme for food security in Niger State.

Speaking at the event, the president said his Administration remains committed to ensuring food sufficiency and protecting local industries for sustainable economic growth.

BusinessDay checks show that four states, including Lagos, Kogi, Kwara and Benue have already signed collaborative agreements with Niger State on the project.

The project, an initiative of the Niger State Government, is for the deployment of cutting-edge agricultural machinery and technology for large-scale agro-value chain development in the State.

President Tinubu also stated that the event represents another step in the food security and agricultural mechanization agenda, declaring that Nigeria must enhance its capacity to feed its people and have enough for export.

“We have seen the level of commitment here. We have seen leadership. The success of any leader will depend on the ability to do what needs to be done when it ought to be done. It is now time for us to address the challenges and make Nigeria an economy of opportunities. We must care for our people; re-orient our people. I do not see why Nigeria cannot feed all students in its schools.

“I know what it means for roaming cows to eat crops and the vegetation of our land. I know it is painful. But when we re-orient the herder and make provision for cattle rearing, we can address that. You are the governors who are to provide us with land. I, as President, I am committed to providing a comprehensive programme that will solve this problem,” the president said.

The president therefore, urged sub-national Governments, as an immediate intervention measure, to implement wage awards in their States to complement the efforts of the Federal Government in easing the burden of citizens, pending when the minimum wage is increased.

“I am equally here to partner with you to banish hunger. You are doing the job. And it is necessary for me to support you; it is mandatory as Nigerians. When you read newspapers, some of us are confused about whether to abuse the past or the present or to make excuses for the future. But that is not in my dictionary. I think action now, re-engineer the finances of our country and steer it on the right path.

“The student loan programme will commence. There will be unemployment benefits for our graduates. The social security benefits for the elderly and the vulnerable will commence. We are fine-tuning all of that area. We need to relieve our people of hunger. Let all the sub-nationals start paying wage awards, pending when the minimum wage is increased. I am not giving an order; I am only appealing. NEC should adopt this,” the president said.

Appreciating the president for honouring his invitation and inaugurating the facilities, Governor Mohammed Bago said four states, Benue, Kogi, Kwara, and Lagos had already signed memoranda of understanding on building partnerships for the development of agriculture.

“Mr. President, your presence here today underscores the importance of this occasion for our state in particular and Nigeria as a whole, as we gather to celebrate a good example demonstrated in our modest contribution to infrastructure and agricultural development encapsulated in our New Niger Agenda.

“For us, agriculture is key to addressing the challenges in critical sectors of our economy, and we shall seize every opportunity for the attainment of growth and engender prosperity for the people of our beloved state and by extension our country, Nigeria,” the governor said.

The Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Abubakar Kyari disclosed that the federal government had signed an agreement with the Brazilian Government and German Deutsch Bank Group as financiers of a facility of 995 million euros for the Green Imperative Programme which will provide mechanization hubs across the 774 local government areas in Nigeria when implemented.

“A memorandum of understanding between the federal government and the John Deer Group, a subsidiary of Tata Equipment, was signed. The manufacturer has signed to deliver 10,000 units of tractors and implement in tranches of 2,000 units per annum for the next five years.

“The Greener Hope Initiative is another veritable platform the federal government is deploying to ultimately change the deficit narrative in the Nigerian agricultural mechanization space,’’ he added.

While in Niger State, President Tinubu also visited former Nigerian Heads of State, Ibrahim Babangida, and Abdulsalami Abubakar with whom he had fruitful discussions concerning the advancement of the nation.