It was gathered that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) wednesday approved N3.38 billion to boost the production of potatoes in Plateau State.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, who made the disclosure said the money would be borrowed from Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) with one per cent interest rate and 25 years moratorium.
The minister who said the loan was not fresh, explained that it had previously been cancelled by the federal government with the intention to make a fresh request for the loan on behalf of Plateau State which she said was responsible for 95 per cent of potato production in the country.
According to her, following ADB’s comprehensive programme on potato production in Plateau State, 100,000 families and 17 local government areas of Plateau State would benefit from the loan while 60,000 jobs would be created by the initiative.
“My approval was on behalf of Plateau State to support the potato value chain. There is a loan that we had previously cancelled from ADB. So, it is not a new loan. We cancelled it and redirected the money to request on behalf of Plateau State Government to support the potato value chain.
“The rationale is that Plateau actually accounts for 95 per cent of Nigeria’s potato production and from Plateau, potatoes are actually exported to Ghana, Niger, Chad and other countries and despite that, there are huge profit losses because there is no enough storage and there is so much more we can do with Plateau’s potatoes.
“So, ADB has come up with a comprehensive programme that will affect over 100,000 families. It is expected to create 60,000 jobs in a potato value chain, from processing, storage, replacement of current inputs and indeed, export.
Now, the terms of the loan is 1 per cent per annum interest rate and it has 25 years moratorium. Plateau State will provide counterpart funding and the balance will be borrowed. It will affect 17 local government areas and we expect it to make significant job creation.
“The amount of the loan is N3.38 billion equivalent and Plateau State ought to contribute N595 million as their own counterpart funding. We have put a process in place to ensure adequate monitoring. This is really an important economic development for the nation and for Plateau State in particular. We have real advantage in potato production. We are really going to invest the money on roads. In some cases, the money will be used for roads to enable the products to come out. Sometimes, it is for storage. Sometimes, it is transportation. Sometimes, it is access to seedlings,” she said.
In his own briefing, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, said FEC approved two memoranda by his ministry.
He said the approval bordered on the earlier anticipatory approval of N1.58 billion for the emergency repair of Abuja-Kaduna Expressway during the closure of Abuja airport in March and another N4.5 billion for the re-construction of Apapa -Wharf road in Lagos in June.
“The two memoranda were ratification on road works that had to be done under emergency circumstances. The first was the Abuja-Kaduna highway which if you recall, we had to quickly do palliative work on in order to support the closure of Abuja airport runway which necessitated diversion of traffic to Kaduna.
“So, at that time, we didn’t have council approval. We just had anticipatory presidential approval as prescribed under the law for emergency works.
“The second one was with respect to Apapa-Wharf Road. Again, you will recall that there was a recent presidential order for a 24-hour port operation and that again put pressure on an already deteriorating road. If you might recall, I also went to hand over that road sometime in June under the public-private partnership structure between Messrs Julius Berger, Flour Mills, NPA and Ministry of Power, Works and Housing to start the construction of that first phase of the road.
The council also approved and ratified the works we had conducted on Kaduna – Abuja highway. Also, the terms and conditions upon which we handed over the road for Apapa were certified by Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP),” he said.