The Federal Government has approved a loan facility of N3.38 billion for Plateau Government to boost the production of Irish potatoes in the state, the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, has disclosed.
Adeosun made this known when she briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.
She revealed that Plateau was expected to contribute N595 million of the amount as its counterpart funding.
“My approval was on behalf of Plateau State to support the potato value chain. There is a loan that we had previously cancelled from the African Development Bank (AfDB).
So, it is not a new loan. We cancelled it and redirected the money to request on behalf of Plateau State Government to support the potatoes value chain.
The rationale is that Plateau actually accounts for 95 per cent of Nigeria’s potato production and from Plateau, potatoes are actually exported to Ghana, Niger, Chad and other countries and despite that, there are huge profit losses because there is no enough storage and there is so much more we can do with Plateau’s potatoes.
So, AfDB has come up with a comprehensive programme that will affect over 100,000 families. It is expected to create 60,000 jobs in a potato value chain, from processing, storage, replacement of current inputs and indeed, export,’’ Kemi said.
According to the minister, the terms of the loan are one per cent per annum interest rate and it has 25 years repayment period with five years moratorium.
She said that the Plateau government would provide counterpart funding and the balance would be borrowed, adding that the potato project would affect 17 local government areas of the state.
“We expect it to make significant job creation,’’ She said:
“The amount of the loan is N3.38 billion equivalent and Plateau State ought to contribute N595 million as their own counterpart funding.
We have put a process in place to ensure adequate monitoring and evaluation. This is really an important economic development for the nation and for Plateau State in particular. We have real advantage in potato production.
We are really going to invest the money on roads. In some cases, the money will be used for roads to enable the products to come out. Sometimes, it is for storage. Sometimes, it is transportation. Sometimes, it is access to seedlings.’’
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, who also briefed the correspondents on the outcome of the Council’s meeting, said two memoranda on road constructions were ratified by the Council,’’ Kemi said.