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FG to commence mechanized farming project in 632 LGAs
MUHAMMAD Nanono, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development says the ministry is to commence mechanised agricultural farming project in 632 local government areas across the nation.
The minister disclosed this while receiving Samuel Ortom, Governor of Benue State at the weekend in Abuja.
He said the project would help the country realise its target of attaining food sufficiency, job creation and boost the nation’s economy.
“Each LGAs will have service centres and each centre will have a brand new tractor fully equipped with the admin and Information Technology workshop,” Nanono said.
“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’’.
On 3rd February, the ministry announced plans to provide 10, 000 tractors to farmers in order to boost farm productivity.
Nanono 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.
PriceWaterCoopers (PWC) in its 2017 report, titled Boosting Rice Production through Increased Mechanisation put the figure of farm tractors at 22, 000 nationwide, contrary to what is obtainable in China and India.
Stakeholders have also attributed poor mechanisation to low farm productivity in the country, thus need to change the trend.
However, in a statement issued by the ministry on Sunday, Nanono stated that the mechanization services would be driven by people in the local government areas.
He also encouraged individuals and groups to come up with proposals of how to manage the service centres, adding that the federal government would guarantee the facilities.
“The investment of potential manager of the service centres may not be more than N6 million, but they will own assets worth the tune of N150 million for a period of 15 years,” the minister noted.
While explaining how the project could boost the rural economy, he said, “A tractor that works for an estimated N 60,000-N75,000 per day, can make an income of about N30,000-N40,000 per day after expenses, and with this, the service centres can pay for the tractor in an average of 6-7 years. Mark you, the tractors can last for about 25 years.”
However, he said the loan to power the project could only facilitate 10, 000 tractors stressing that, “the gap for improvement in terms of bridging the gap in agricultural mechanization is so huge. We hope that this will work very well so that the private sector can drive it.”
Ortom, in his remarks, attributed unemployment as a major challenge confronting the country and not only insecurity.
He said if the nation could engage the youths and use the potentials of the agriculture sector to create job opportunities, wealth, several problems bedevilling the nation would largely reduce.
Benue state is 35,000 square meter of land, more than 95 per cent of the land is arable and most of the food produced in the country can be produced in Benue state, he boasted, expressing his willingness to partner with the federal ministry.
“We do all year round farming.”