By; AMOS EBUTE MATHEW, Kaduna
Niger State Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), with the Alternative Bank on sustainable development of the state.
The signing of the MOU which was done in Abuja, was on some basic segments of the economy, such as, education, health, agriculture, transportation, energy, and infrastructure among others.
Governor Mohammed Umaru Bago signed on behalf of the state government, while the Executive Director of the Alternative Bank, Garba Mohammed, signed for the financial institution.
The governor who expressed delight with the financial institution for its readiness to partner the State government, said the state will maximize the opportunity to harness its agricultural potential.
Governor Umaru Bago who observed that the state has not been able to cultivate up to 1% of its arable land, disclosed that the state government intends to procure some earth moving equipment like caterpillar, bulldozers, pale loaders graders on a long lease to prepare land for cultivation of about 4.5m hectares which is half of it cultivable land in the next 10 years.
He further announced that the state is discussing with Almarai; a Saudi multinational dairy company for the production of Alfalfa plant havens discovered the economic value of the plant, adding that the protein content of the plant will be studied with a view to getting better seedlings for planting.
The governor then directed his Deputy Chief of Staff and the Chairman, Niger Foods Limited to liaise with the Financial Institution to achieve the desired result of the collaboration.
In his remarks, the Executive Director of the Alternative Bank, Garba Mohammed, explained that the Financial Institution has created multi-million U.S dollar opportunities for Agricultural investment in the State.
He said an international partner has expressed willingness to invest 65 million U.S dollars to have a sugarcane plantation on five hectares of land in the State, with an estimated output of 50,000 tonnes of sugar annually, about 4,767 job opportunities, production of methanol, 40,000 tonnes of animal feeds and generation of 11mgwt of electricity.
The Executive Director also said another development partner from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is ready to invest between 1 to 10 million U.S. dollars for the exportation of the Alfalfa plant and that 100,000 hectares would be required for the cultivation of the plant.
On the purchase of earth moving equipment, Mohammed suggested that the state government should get Ijarah Sukuk at the capital market for between 5 and 7 years pointing out that it would reduce cost and the equipment would return the investment made without the State necessarily putting in much money into it.