Fed Govt, governors, firm meet over $4.5b Chinese agric loan

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The Federal Government has met with some governors and 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 Peoples Republic of China.

The Chinese government had, during President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to China last year, promised to support agriculture in Nigeria with machinery, including tractors and irrigation infrastructure.

Nigeria Governors’ Forum Chairman Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State, Alhaji Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa) and Chief David Umahi (Ebonyi) and representative of Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State attended the meeting.

The governors harped on the quality of the equipment, adaptability to weather and technical maintenance, among others.

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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 Nigeria’s hot weather.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Chief Audu Ogbeh said the government would not accept any low quality equipment, urging the Chinese firm to work out how it would assemble in Nigeria and, eventually, manufacture some of components locally.

Ogbeh  noted that the government would not take loans without designing the means of repayment.

“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 agriculture produce,” Ogbeh said.

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The governors agreed to meet with the technical committee to identify agriculture produce in the states that could be exported to China.

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