To ensure the actualisation of its agricultural revolution agenda, the federal government says it is set to begin agricultural mechanisation programme in 632 local government areas in the country. The policy would ensure that Nigeria achieved food security, job creation and economic growth.
The minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono who stated this when he received in audience the Governor of Benue, Dr Samuel Ortom, in his Abuja office over the weekend, noted that the initiative is expected to involve a full technology package transfer that would cover all stages, from agricultural production to industrial processing and down to marketing.
The minister informed that the programme would affect 632 local government areas (LGAs), across the country. According to him, “Each LGA will have service centers and each center will have a brand new tractor fully equipped with the admin and IT workshop, there would also be stores for seeds, fertilizer and excess produce. With these, we will link farmers up with processing industries especially clusters at the local government producing the same thing will be provided with processing plants.”
He pointed out that the mechanisation services would be driven by the people in the local government areas and he also encouraged individuals and groups to come up with proposals of how to manage the service centers, adding that the federal government will guarantee the facilities.
The minister further explained that “the investment of potential manager of the service centers may not be more than N 5-6 million, but they will own assets worth the tune of N150 million for a period of 15 years’’
Giving a breakdown how the programme will generate income, the minister said, “A tractor that works for an estimated N60,000 -N75,000 per day, can make income of about N30,000-N40,000 per day after expenses and with this the service centers can pay for the tractor in an average of 6-7 years. Mark you, the tractors can last for about 25 years.”
The minister emphasised that “the loan we are getting can only finance 10,000 tractors, the gap for improvement in terms of bridging the gap in Agricultural mechanisation is so huge. But we hope that this will work very well so that the private sector can drive it.”
Nanono pledged that the federal government will partner with Benue Government adding that each of its LGAs will benefit.
“On the issue of soya beans production, we are taking a critical look into this area as a means of boosting food production and creating employment. We have enormous market potential for soya beans in China, the minister said.
In his remarks, the Benue State Governor noted that “if you ask me, Nigeria’s major challenge is not the security problem alone, but unemployment and agriculture remains the one sector that has the capacity for creating jobs, and wealth for the teeming jobless youths. If we are able to engage the youths, we will have fewer problems in the country.”
Dr Ortom assured the minister of the state’s commitment to partner with the Ministry, saying, “We are committed to partnering and collaborating with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to ensure we provide food security for Nigeria and beyond.
“Benue state is 35,000 sq meter of land, more than 95 percent of the land is arable and most of the food produced in the country can be produced in Benue state. And they are able to do all year round farming.”