Nigeria signs MoU with Israeli agric firm on graduate irrigation farming

Water Resources Minister, Sarah Ochekpe

The Israeli firm will contribute half of the cost of the project.

The Federal Government on Tuesday in Abuja signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with an Israeli agricultural firm, LR Group, on graduate irrigation farming scheme.

The signing ceremony took place at the end of a two-day Presidential Summit on Water held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa.

The Minister of Water Resources, Sarah Ochekpe, signed on behalf of the Federal Government while Itzhak Tzadik, a Director in LR Group, signed on behalf of the Israeli firm.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Water Resources, Godsknow Igali, said that the scheme, to be launched by President Goodluck Jonathan in March, would engage 400 young graduates on irrigation farms at Gurara multipurpose Dam site in Niger State.

He said the Israeli firm would provide the fund and training for the young graduates on farming and agro-allied processing.

Mr. Igali said the idea was to replicate the success story of the Israeli in the sector, while the scheme would be further extended to six sites.

“The idea is to use the Israeli experience where young people stay in farm settlements which had worked well for them and that is what we hope to do in not only in Gurara but we are looking at six sites,” he said.

The Israeli firm’s representative, Mr. Tzadik, said the benefits of the scheme was “amazing and enormous” for the country.

He said the signed MoU were in two parts.

“One part, which is the social part, consists of building two villages of 200 families per village with agriculture, irrigation, water supply to each of the houses. The other part is on agro-industrial centre which consists of storing capacities, hatchery, slaughter house, dairy farm and cat fish farm.

“This is like a big settlement which will create opportunities not only for the farmers but also the people in the area. We have implemented this in many parts of the world and what you will see is that the whole area of the settlement would be developed.

He explained that his firm was going to invest half of the sum needed for the project.

“We are going to invest money in this project. We are going to invest 50 per cent together with the government in the agro industrial centre.

“I will not invest money if I do not see that the project will be a success. We are putting about $40 million (N6 billion) out of our pocket into the project.”

The Water Resources Minister also signed another MoU with the Managing Director of the Bank of Industry, BOI, Evelyn Oputu, for the provision of funds for small scale water operators

Mr. Igali said that the idea of the agreement was aimed at making funds available to the small scale water operators particularly the water truck vendors “mairuwa” to own boreholes and modern method of distributing water.

He said the scheme would assist in making potable available to the people.

He said the fund would also be made available to small irrigation farmers, pure water providers and small water vendors and urged other banks to take a cue from the BOI initiatives.

Mr. Oputu, in a brief remark, assured that the MoU would be fully implemented, adding that funds would be made available for its success.

(NAN)


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