The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development – Chief Audu Ogbeh has inaugurated the Committees for the implementation of the MoU between the Federal Government of Nigeria; participating State Governments of Nigeria and the China-Africa Machinery Corporation – CAMACO on Agricultural Mechanization System – AMS in Abuja.
The programme which has Zamfara, Adamawa, Jigawa, Ebonyi, Katsina, Niger, Taraba and Sokoto as participating states is designed to increase Nigeria’s stock of tractors and improve on mechanization through the supply of tractors to be assembled in Nigeria and in credit partnership with farmers to obtain and pay over a period of 7 to 8years at a single digit interest rate.
Inaugurating the Committee, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development – Chief Audu Ogbeh stated:
This is a very important programme that has been on the drawing board. Nigeria is very low on tractors. There are less than 30,000 tractors in Nigeria and we should at least as at today have a million. This partnership with CAMACO is an attempt to catch up with our shortfalls in tractors and increase our mechanization to make it easier for agriculture to take place. Increased mechanization is even more important now that we are trying to encourage the youth to embrace agriculture.”
He urged the China-Africa Corporation to ensure that certain climatic conditions are considered as the tractors are manufactured for the country noting that in some parts of the country, temperatures could rise to as high as 40 degrees and advised that the company should take a good look at their engine cooling systems. “Some parts of the north are very dusty, so your air filters must be designed to fit appropriately. You must also build these tractors bearing in mind that we need them to last 15 to 20 years at the very least. We don’t have money to repeat purchases of machinery every two years. We need solid machinery, very well designed machines to cope with the climatic conditions and the nature of our soil. We are also intending to keep after sales services in top gear”, the minister added.
Chief Ogbeh described the current hardship Nigerians are going through as very disturbing but expressed the hope that with agriculture taking place all-year round through irrigation and with increased mechanization, there is no reason why Nigeria should not be able to produce the food that it eats. “Coming from China, you know what it takes to feed a large population, you have succeeded, we can succeed here too”, he told the CAMACO delegation.
The Minister informed the CAMACO group that two Nigerian Engineers had built mini tractors designed for small scale farmers and appealed for technical support in improving the locally built machinery to promote local agricultural mechanization and to create room for small farmers to own tractors.
The three standing committees inaugurated today are: the Project Management Committee; Technical Implementation Committee and the Expert Consultative Group, which shall have the responsibility among others to oversee the day to day monitoring of the projects on site, offer advisory services and report findings to the committee.
Memberships of the committees were drawn from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development; the National Centre for Agricultural Mechanization; Participating States; Ministry of Finance; Ministry Water Resources and Ministry of Works. Governors of Katsina and Adamawa States and Some State Commissioners of Agriculture were in attendance.
CAMACO is a venture funded by the China African Development Fund – CADFund as a strategic partnership built and developed between China and Africa, with the purpose of encouraging and supporting Chinese enterprises to invest in Africa.