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Buhari approves N24b for modular irrigation project

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President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the sum of N24 billion for the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) to facilitate the execution of a smart modular irrigation project, with a pilot scheme located in Adamawa State.

Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NASENI, Prof. Mohammed Sani Haruna, said other areas of application of this fund include the development and domestications of technologies that NASENI has acquired from a partnering organisation in Italy, de Lorenzo, production of technical science laboratory equipment for primary school, secondary school and tertiary institutions. 

Prof. Haruna made the disclosure on Friday, while addressing newsmen shortly after he met with the President at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The CEO, who said his mission was to brief President Buhari on the financial operations of the agency, explained that the modular irrigation project would enhance agricultural development in the country, and enabling farmers to produce crops three times round the year.

Dismissing insinuations of suspicious dealings, he explained that the President, who is the Executive Chairman of the agency, requires regular briefing on the state of the affairs of the agency as well as status of the accounts.

“It’s not for anything suspicion, but we have been asking for funding and more funding. Last week, the President approved N24 billion for smart irrigation system on request by NASENI and only 1% fro Federation Account was given to us. So, it was his thought that if our money was remitted, why asking for further funding,” he said.

Speaking the funding, he said, “The funding was for the modular irrigation system. We have acquired a 10-hectare farmland on lease in Adamawa State, using water from River Benue, where the pilot scheme is starting. It’s estimated that based on the technologies to be used, it is possible to have three multi-crop seasons in a year, commencing from October this year.

“Also, the money is for the pumps, structure, farming techniques, farmers, officers, offices that are needed; the vehicles and the administrative management throughout this demonstration farm, using modular irrigation system first model. First model in the sense that this one, we’re drawing water from River Benue, of course, solar powered.”
Prof. Haruna said the statutory 1% of the Federation Account meant to be drawn for its running, is dedicated to execution of priority projects that had already been approved by government. 

He said, “The application of these funds is in some priority projects approved by government. The capital components include payment of 15% of the local counterpart funding for three key projects in the power sector; the development and production of solar cells locally; development and production of electric power transformers and high voltage testing laboratory. 

“Now, these are projects with 85% funding support from China, which are part of what were approved and being implemented in the 2021/2022 Borrowing Plan. That is number one and out of the $48,879,103, representing 15% of what Nigeria is paying as the 15% counterpart funding based on the money remitted to NASENI in the first and third quarters. A total of $23, 928, 063 had been remitted in these two quarters. 

“The third component is the development of skills development centres in six geopolitical zones, while the fourth component is application of this fund in the development of three out of 12 new centres approved by the President for different states of the federation. It, of course, include continue research and development, reverse engineering and assembly of some military equipment in collaboration with two different private companies, that is, Nigeria Machine Tools Limited, Oshogbo and PROFORCE, manufacturer of some military hardware, based in Ogun State, and of course, completion of the remodeled NASENI headquarters. 

“These are priority areas where these funds have been applied. The briefings also included the newly developed equipment and machines that are needed to have mechanised farming. This simple, but needed equipment for cultivation, planting, weeding, processing, and harvesting, up to food preservation.”

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