The Nigerian government has approved a N3.38bn loan to support the potato value chain in Plateau State, North Central Nigeria.
The approval was given at Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council presided over by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, who was one of the ministers that briefed State House correspondents after the meeting, said Plateau State government would provide N595 million as counterpart funding while the rest would be borrowed.
Adeosun said the interest rate on the loan would be one percent per annum with a repayment period of 25 years and five years moratorium.
She said the loan was from the African Development Bank, ADB, but was previously cancelled and redirected to the Plateau State potato value chain.
“It’s not a new loan; we cancelled it and redirected the money to a request by Plateau State government to support the potato value,” Adeosun said, explaining that the rationale for the loan was that “Plateau accounts for 95% of Nigeria’s potato production.”
She said: “From Plateau, potato is exported to Ghana, Niger, Chad and other countries. Despite that there are huge post-harvest losses, there is not enough storage, there is more that we could be doing with Plateau potato.”
Mrs. Adeosun said that the AfDB has come out with a comprehensive programme for the Plateau State potato value chain.
She said the programme would affect over 100,000 families engaged in potato farming.
“It is expected to create 60,000 jobs in the potato value chain, everything from processing, storage, replacement of current inputs and indeed exports,” the finance minister said.
According to Adeosun, the programme would affect 17 local government areas in Plateau State and “we expected it to be a significant job creator.”
She said part of what the loan would be spent on was the construction of roads to enable potato farmers to transport their produce from their farms to the cities for the market.
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, said the Federal Executive Council approved two ratification memoranda of road work that had to be done under emergency circumstances.
Mr. Fashola said the first was the Abuja-Kaduna Highway, where emergency work was done following the closure of the runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, which necessitated the diversion of traffic to Kaduna.
“At that time, we didn’t have council approval; what we had was an anticipatory presidential approval as prescribed under the law for emergency work, which is prescribed under the law,” Fashola said.
He said the second approval was with respect to the Apapa Wharf Road in Lagos, South West Nigeria.
The Works Minister said the recent Presidential Order for a 24-hour port put pressure on the road.
He said the Apapa Wharf Road was handed over in June this year, under public private partnership arrangement, between Julius Berger, Flour Mills, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA and the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing.
According to Fashola, the cost implication for the 165km Abuja-Kaduna Highway was N1.58billion, while the Apapa Wharf Road project would cost N4.13bn.