The gains of foreign investments recorded from Vice President Kashim Shettima’s visit to the United States have swelled as an American company, John Deere, has resolved to set up a tractor assembly plant in Nigeria.
Details of the company’s interest to invest in Nigeria’s agricultural sector were made known during a meeting between the Vice President and top officials of John Deere led by its Vice President on Production Systems, Mr Jason Brantley.
The meeting facilitated by the Chairman of Flour Mills of Nigeria, Mr John Coumantaros, also had in attendance the Minister of Agriculture, Sen. Abubakar Kyari; the Consul General of Nigeria in New York, Ambassador Lot Egopija, and the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Agribusiness and Productivity, Dr Kingsley Uzoma, among others.
Speaking during the interaction with the investors, the Vice President said Nigeria is committed to transforming agriculture as a pathway to tackling insecurity and improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers.
“Without mechanization, you can never be truly self-sufficient in food production. President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is fully committed to revitalizing the Nigerian agricultural sector.
“And for us to be self-sufficient in food production, three key elements are essential. First is certified seeds, then mechanization, provision of fertilizer and of course, agricultural extension services,” he said.
The Vice President, who spoke on the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs) project, said “it is designed to provide the infrastructure, platform and framework for the private sector to add value to Nigeria’s agricultural produce for the domestic, regional market and for the global community.”
Assuring the investors that Nigeria is now open for partnership, Vice President said: “We are open for discussions, for conversations towards fast-tracking the whole process. My principal, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is very eager to see that the full potential of the Nigerian agricultural sector is realised.
“The President declared a food security emergency in August this year fundamentally anchored on the fact that we are exposed to all the volatility in the world. We are vulnerable, we are exposed. This is why we are putting in place the mechanisms towards addressing challenges in the sector and we cannot afford to do otherwise.”
Earlier, the Vice President (Production Systems) of John Deere, Mr Jason Brantley. spoke about the company’s proposed investment in Nigeria, assuring that the project would unlock the country’s agricultural potential by creating an organised approach to tractor-clearing services for smallholder farmers across the country.
He said the initiative to establish tractor assembly would require zero investment from the government, while credit guarantees will be needed to help make credit available at an affordable rate for interested persons or groups.
He expressed the company’s readiness to immediately engage relevant authorities in Nigeria, with a view to actualising the objective of establishing the assembly plant.