The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with John Deere/NAMEL Tractors Manufacturing Company for the deployment of 10,000 Units of tractors under a special hiring scheme.
In addition, the Federal Government is also poised to establish Agricultural Equipment Hiring Enterprises (AEHEs) across the 774 Local Government Areas of the country.
Speaking at the occasion, the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Chief Audu Ogheh said, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture ”sees this scheme as solution to the challenges of mechanization in Nigerian Agricultural sector;” observing that there is no country in Africa that has perfected agriculture and solve farming challenges without adopting of Mechanization in its farming production.
The Minister who was full of praise for the tractor manufacturers for investing their hope in the future of the country said in the next 10 to 15 years, the country should be aiming at deployment of a million tractors in the country.
According to the Minister, the short term goals of the establishment of the AEHEs in the next five years is to help deploy a minimum of 10,000 units of tractors and over 40,000 other mechanized equipment for land preparation, planting, weeding, harvest/threshing, farm transportation and other simple irrigation activities across the country.
He also made it known that aside from targeting mechanization of 9.450million hectares of land, the country hopes to attain additional 37.8million MT of food production, and also create additional 150,000 indirect jobs through liberal mechanization activities annually.
Chief Audu Ogbeh also explained that ultimately the goal is to ensure that small holder farmers have access to available, accessible and affordable farm gate mechanization services for optimum yield per hectare.
In a related development, Chief Audu Ogbeh also disclosed that agricultural exports from Nigeria has risen by 180% since 2015 leading to earning of over N500bn in the last three years.
He further observed that this agricultural feat was made possible through improved mechanized farming in the country. He opined that this partnership with the private sector will revolutionalise mechanization and check rural urban migration, create wealth and ultimately eradicate poverty, which he described as “crime against humanity”.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr. Bukar Hassan remarked that the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the three parties signifies another landmark for the country in its efforts at involving the private sector to drive the new agricultural initiative and reduce drastically the country’s continued reliance on oil.
The Acting Director General of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) Engr. Chidi K.C Izwah announced that his Commission has issued provisional license to FMARD to drive this initiative with other partners under public-private partnership; believing that this will improve mechanization of agriculture in Nigeria.
The Director of Agricultural Extension of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Mrs Karima Babangida in her vote of thanks described the partnership with John Deere/ NAMEL as first of its kind by the Ministry; and appealed that women farmers that constitute about 60 per cent of farmers population are deliberately targeted to benefit from this laudable programme. She praised the Hon. Minister and the Permanent Secretary for their tireless supports to ensure that expectation of Nigeria farmers come to reality.