Ogbeh, 4 governors fine tune $4.5b agric loan with China
ABUJA- THE Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh and four state governors at the weekend held meeting with a Chinese company, YTO China-Africa Machinery Corporation, CAMACO, to fine tune the implementation of the $4.5 billion agriculture infrastructure loan agreement with the People’s Republic of China.
The meeting which was held at the headquarters of the Ministry in Abuja had Governor of Zamfara State and Chairman of Governors’ Forum, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, Alhaji Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State, Chief David Umahi of Ebonyi State, and Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, who was represented.
Ogbeh who represented the Federal Government at the meeting emphasized that the government will not accept farm machinery and equipment that are below standard and quality following the scarcity of money and also the weather conditions across the country.
He said the company should consider local assembling of the tractors in Nigeria for cost effectiveness and availability, and also disclosed that government has designed means for repayment of the loan.
He said: “We are negotiating the interest rate, telling them to produce here when our steel mill comes on stream. We are harping on specification. We are also discussing how to pay back the loan through export of agricultural produce.”
On quality of the tractors the governors stressed that the company should manufacture them for adaptability to Nigerian weather and technical maintenance, and other details that will boost food production.
Governor Umahi warned against low quality equipment and asked for detailed specification of what would be supplied to avoid bringing in machinery that may not be suitable for the country’s hot weather.
Meanwhile, as balance of trade the governors agreed to meet again with the technical committee to identify agriculture produce in the states that could be exported to China as a means of attracting foreign exchange.
It will be recalled that the Chinese Government had during President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to China last year promised to support agriculture in Nigeria, essentially with machinery including tractors and irrigation infrastructure.