The Kogi state government says it is borrowing $100 million to boost food production and processing in the state.
Kingsley Fanwo, commissioner of information and communication, said the Alape staple crop processing zone project (SCPZ) would liberate the north-central and some parts of the south-west from economic backwardness.
Speaking while fielding questions from journalists on the reason for the $100 million loan on Friday, Fanwo said the project would improve infrastructural development, add value to agricultural products and also spur Nigeria’s drive towards clean energy.
The SCPZ initiative was launched by the federal government in 2011 to establish staple crops processing zones across the country for major food crops, to reduce post-harvest losses, provide infrastructure to boost production and improve market access to attract private sector investment in agriculture.
Kogi was selected as the pioneer staple crop processing zone for cassava.
He said the focus should not be on the amount borrowed but on the intention of the loan, and that “borrowing in this case is for productive purpose”.
“Our focus shouldn’t be about what is being borrowed alone, but most importantly on the intent and the terms involved. The Alape SCPZ project is an initiative that will liberate the north-central and some parts of south-west from economic backwardness,” Fanwo said.
“It is our responsibility to educate the people on the purpose of the loan. Our people are right to ask questions because government is only a representative of the larger interest of the people.
“The 100 million dollar loan is to be channeled into the massive SCPZ project in Alape. Kogi state is grateful to be considered for such massive investment in agriculture.
“The project will not only improve infrastructure such as power, roads and water in the area; but also create off taker chains for cassava farmers across the entire north-central zone. It will also add value to our agricultural products and lead the way to Nigeria’s drive towards clean energy through ethanol production.
“This will qualify our nation and state for benefits from the carbon credit fund.
“The multiplier effect is almost limitless from agriculture to engineering, commerce and industry. Kogi is privileged to house this economic development initiative”.
He added that a lot of stakeholders are involved in the project, and that it would not take any negative toll on the finances of the state.
“Governor Yahaya Bello has personally driven this process in conjunction with the federal ministry of agriculture, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation and other international bodies because it is in tandem with his commitment to food security, agro-economics, job creation and promoting a green world,” Fanwo said.
“The Alape SCPZ is expected to inject billions of dollar into the economy of Kogi state and employ over 1 million people directly and indirectly.
“Our people should seize the opportunity to transform the economy of the state and the nation at large instead of nursing a misplaced fear on a loan that has been structured in a way that it won’t affect any of the parties involved.
“We are grateful to the federal ministry of agriculture as well as the NNPC who has indicated interest to invest in biofuel ethanol refinery within the zone thereby turning Kogi state to economic hub of the nation with the project”.