The Peoples Republic of China has said it will lend Nigeria $4.5 billion to boost local agriculture.
The loan is to enable Nigeria purchase farming tools including tractors, bulldozers, graders, irrigation pumps, amongst others.
Audu Ogbeh, Nigeria’s minister of Agriculture, and Abdulaziz Yari, Zamfara State Governor, made the disclosure while speaking to journalists in Abuja on Tuesday.
Messrs. Yari and Ogbe, in their submissions, said they were in the Villa to brief President Muhammadu Buhari on the outcome of their journey to China on the issue.
“We came to brief the President on developments following our visit to China in April last year and our negotiations on a number of issues to deal with machineries for agricultural development,” said Mr. Ogbe.
“We signed an agreement which engages all the states including FCT from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture for the procurement of strategic machinery for rural development and agriculture; tractors, bulldozers, graders, irrigation pumps, tarsiers and so on from China.
“The Chinese were willing to supply us these things for a long term basis, 20 years credit at an interest rate of 1 percent per annum.
“A committee has been working on the matter and we are close to sorting out all the small details and that is why we came to see the President.
“Of all the partners we have, the Chinese have shown the willingness to see us out of our problems, because about 30 years ago they were in the same crisis. They see us as people in the same circumstances that they were then and they are willing to help us get out of it and we appreciate it, the president does.” Commenting further, the minister said President Muhammadu Buhari directed them to liaise with the Ministry of Budget and Planning, Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to sort out the technical requirements.
“The President responded well. He asked us to get in touch with the Ministry of Budget and Planning, Finance and CBN to sort out all the technical details and move on with it”, he said.
Mr. Yari, on his part, said that the expected loan was $4.5 billion.
“They are giving us a credit line of $4.5 billion which will cover the machineries and infrastructure that is rural earth dams, irrigation and the loan has a 20 years repayment term with 5 years moratorium,” the governor said.
“Initially we started negotiations to drop a counterpart funding of 25%, but understanding the economy of Nigeria, we negotiated to give a counterpart funding of 10 per cent which we believe Nigeria can do and we are targeting the natural resources fund for the counterpart funding.
“We are now speaking with the Chinese group and the Nigerian governors and the technical committee that was set up by the minister and the ministry of agriculture and rural development.
“So we have now come to a stage where the President needs to come in so that he can give us a leadership role and a kind of approval of a certain level so that we can forge ahead.
“This government has said they will diversify the economy to agriculture and the only way that this can succeed is through agric mechanisation. The way that we are doing farming today, many young men and women are not going to farm because of the way it is being done. Meanwhile in other sister nations the agriculture is with machineries and equipment and we have been doing it for the past 60 years with hoe.”
Mr. Yari said the government is making a huge progress with the partnership, adding that China is coming first to support the country.
“The president has given us his commitment and also asked us to engage the minister of finance, budget and national planning and the CBN to conclude and then the minister of Agric will make presentation to council, then to the national assembly for final approval,” he added.