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    Finance Minister Lauds NSIA Intervention in Agric Sector

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    By Tony Obiechina, Abuja

    The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed has commended the agriculture intervention initiative of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).

    The Minister who spoke at the commissioning of Pandagric Novum state-of-the-art farm in Nasarawa State by the Vice-president, Prof Yemi Osinbajo at the weekend, said the NSIA initiative was very commendable.

    The farm, which is located in Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, is supported by the NSIA in partnership with Signature Agri Investments.

    Mrs. Ahmed also commended the foresight and the commitment of the NSIA in serving as a catalyst in galvanising tbe much-needed investments in the agriculture sector and its value chain.

    Specifically, she applauded the company for staying with the NSIA to “make this investment a releasable one”, even as commended the doggedness of the leadership of the NSIA for ensuring that the project is completed within a period of four years, despite the various challenges it faced.

    Mrs. Ahmed stated that President Muhammadu Buhari prioritises agriculture not just for increase productivity but for food security.

    She said: “This is the kind of investment and project that we should continue to invest in and replicate in several other parts of our country, so that the community, like we have seen today here, can be engaged in production farming. The example of the increase in yield per hectare is amazing, and this should be encouraged.”

    She also noted that the decision of the NSIA to partner the private sector in investing in agriculture is in line with the food security agenda of the federal government, promising that her Ministry, would continue to support the NSIA as it forges ahead into various other investments.
    The Minister described the Pandagric farm as the largest maize farm in Nigeria and commended the Governor of Nasarawa State, Mallam Abdullahi Sule, for providing the land for the farming project.

    Mrs. Ahmed further said that the partnership between the NSIA and private sector is a demonstration that there are huge untapped potentials to invest in various sectors of the Nigerian economy.

    In his remarks, Mr. Uche Orji, Managing Director (MD) of NSIA, noted the challenges that bedeviled the project from the outset, and solicited more government support in the areas of road infrastructure, communications and power.

    The NSIA chairman, Mallam Farouk Gumel, noted the mandate of the NSIA, which is to develop infrastructure and promote inclusion.

    “We have always believed in partnership and we are here today to witness that clear idea of partnership. This partnership is between the government and a community, and also between the people, organisations and the government. The local government has been fantastic, the traditional ruler and the Governor have been forthcoming and, therefore, we are commissioning a fantastic project.”

    Mr. Bruce Spain, MD/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Pandagric Novum Limited, in his speech said that the commissioning of the facilities “is the living proof that Nigeria is able to develop a fully integrated agricultural value chain.”

    “We shall continue to achieve up to 5000 farming production under our own control and engage at the same time with more small holders to create a win-win scenario. Access to knowledge and market is an important element.

    “Training, education, implementation of hi tech agric technology, close ties with the wonderful supportive communities and their empowerment are key ingredients of this process of transformation here at Pandagric Novum. Since the start of our collaboration, it has been our common goal to achieve the important milestone that we are celebrating today. But we also know our ambitions do reach out much wider. Together with our shareholder, Old Mutual Investments Group, we are proud and honoured to have a strong partnership with NSIA”, he added.

    Also speaking at the event, MD of Signature Agric Investments, Theo Van Der Veen, stated that Pandagric Novum was born out of the partnership between the NSIA and Old Mutual through the Signature Agric Investments.

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