The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (Retd.), has approved the sum of N24 billion for a smart modular irrigation project by the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure.

NASENI’s executive vice chairman, Professor Mohammed Haruna, made this known to State House correspondents shortly after meeting the president at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.

Haruna explained the rationale for the project, noting that the modular irrigation scheme would increase agricultural yields across the country by allowing farmers to produce crops three times a year.

The visit to Villa, he said, is to show Buhari the financial details of the agency’s operation.

According to Haruna, the president, who is the executive chairman of the agency, should receive updates on the day-to-day running of the establishment and that his interest in NASENI’s accounts has not been caused by suspicious activity.

He said: “It’s not for anything suspicious, but we’ve asked for funding and more funding, then you want to know the status of what’s happening so far. For example, I told you, the 1 percent of the Federation bill owed to NASENI, we only receive the portion from the federal government, rather than 1 percent before it is shared with the states and others who benefit from it

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“Last week, at the request of NASENI, the president approved N24bn for a smart irrigation system. So it’s his idea that if our money is transferred, why ask for further funding? Just to clarify the situation, not because of other things, to know the status. And of course, to be precise, as chairman of the NASENI board of directors, he would need to know to the last Kobo what we do and don’t have, to guide his decisions on business.”

He noted that funding approval would be funneled into the modular irrigation system.

The NASENI Chief also revealed that the agency has leased 10 acres of farmland in Adamawa State and will use water from the Benue River, where the pilot project will begin in October.

This, he said, would allow crops to be planted and harvested three times in one calendar year.

“Based on the technologies used there, it is estimated that it is possible to have three multi-crop seasons in a year, starting from October this year, God willing.

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“The funds are for the pumps, the structure, the agricultural techniques, the farmers, the officers, the offices needed, the vehicles and the administrative management, until the period when we will have this demonstration farm, using modular irrigation system first fashion model.

“First model in the sense that for this model we get water from the Benue River, of course, solar powered,” he said.

He also announced that the statutory 1 percent of the Federation account, intended for day-to-day operations, is earmarked for the implementation of some priority projects approved by the government.

“The application of these funds has been approved by the government in some priority projects. The capital components include the payment of 15 percent of the local counterpart financing for three major projects in the energy sector; the development and production of solar cells locally; development and production of electrical transformers and the third is a high voltage testing laboratory.

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“Now these are projects with 85 percent funding support from China, which is part of what has been approved and implemented in the 2021/2022 loan plan. That’s number one and therein, of the $48,879,103, which amounts to 15 percent of what Nigeria pays as the 15 percent counterpart financing based on the money transferred to NASENI in the first and third quarters. In these two quarters, $23,928,063 had been transferred.

“The other areas of application of this fund are the development and domestication of technologies that NASENI has acquired from a partner organization in Italy, de Lorenzo, for the production of technical-scientific laboratory equipment for primary, secondary and tertiary institutions,” he explained. .

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