The Bank of Industry, BOI and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, for N13.6bn loan exclusively targeted at the private sector at a maximum of 10 years with a 3-year cessation at 5 per cent interest flat rate annually to 16 benefiting states.
The sixteen states are said to be benefiting from the N13.6billion deal entered into as an intervention funds for cassava and rice milling in the country.
Ten out of the 16 states: Kaduna, Kano, Kogi, Kebbi, Zamfara, Bayelsa, Bauchi, Benue,Ogun and Anambra, will be for rice mills while the remaining six states – Ogun, Abia, Ondo, Delta, Nasarawa and Cross River are for cassava mills.
Mr. Rasheed Olaoluwa the Managing Director of BOI at the signing of the MOU in Abuja on Oct.30,2014, disclosed that the objective of the Federal Government’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda is not only to boost crop production, but also to create value-added food processing industries as a means of reducing food imports.
The whole scheme of the fund is to enable this administration to move forwards the already successful agric transformation agenda and to take it to an advanced stage, by setting up ten medium sized rice mills and six high quality cassava mills across the country.
Over the last three years, a lot of activities have been undertaken to improve and promote the local production of the items in Nigeria as we are now in the crucial stage where there is a need for effectual processing of the agricultural produce, he said.
Olaoluwa stated that MoU is going to address the modalities to ensure that the 16 states which the funds are meant for, materialised in few months time, adding that, “it is therefore hoped that by the time the 10 rice and 6 cassavas mills companies are fully operational, evidently, the amount of rice and cassava importation in Nigeria would be significantly reduced, if not totally eliminated.”
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural development, Dr Akinwumi Adeshina, responded that the federal government has resolved to bridge the milling gap in the country.
Adeshina confirmed that the N13.6billion will integrate rice mills with a 36,000 metric tons capacity each from the 10 mills in those States and 72,000 metric tons capacity each from the cassava mills in the six States adding that “Within three years 6million farmers who cultivated two million hectares and have produced seven million metric tons of rice’’.