By Palma Ileye
In a bid to fast track development in the Agricultural Sector, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, FMARD, in collaboration with the Bank of Agriculture, BOA and other relevant partners have launched the tractorization programme to encourage mechanized farming, boost food and nutrition security as well as creating more job opportunities for Nigerian youths.
Speaking during the event that took place at the Bank of Agriculture Office Complex in Kaduna State, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar said that the Ministry in collaboration with BOA and Manufactures Representatives has agreed to support the project by making tractors with implements available to farmers at a concessionary deferred payment terms.
Abubakar noted that Nigerian Farmers were expected to make a 40% per cent down payment while the balance of 60% per cent would spread over a period of three years.
He stated that the Ministry would acquire 10,000 units of Tractors with Implements and 50,000 units of assorted equipment to kick start the programme.
He said that the vital role of Agriculture in the Nigerian Economy makes it necessary for the Sector to be re-invigorated through tractor acquisition in order to achieve Food and Nutrition Security.
The Agric Minister pointed out that it would lead to improved quantity and quality of food per person, reduce drudgery of farmers in Nigeria as well as increase productivity through Tractorization of the Agric Sector.
He revealed that Nigeria and Brazil entered into Bi-lateral Agreement under the More Food International Programme, MFIP, of Brazil which culminated in-kind loan of $1.2 Billion.
Speaking further, the Minister noted that Agriculture sector remains amongst the key sector driving the economy in Nigeria and it contributed 23.78% of the Gross Domestic Product, GDP, as well as the largest employer of labour in the Country.
In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe represented by Director, Federal Department of Agriculture, Engr. Abubakar Abdullahi stated that the Programme would move agriculture from subsistence to commercial business venture, increase the economy of most farmers, drive development in the agrarian communities, encourage youth participation and engagement among others.
Umakhihe reaffirmed the Ministry’s commitment in taking the tractorization programme to higher pedestal where all and sundry will acknowledge its modest achievement.
Earlier, the Managing Director, Bank of Agriculture Limited Alhaji Alwan Hassan said that the status of Agricultural Mechanization in the country was very low estimated at 0. 027hp/ha as against United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, FAO, recommendation of 1.5hp/ha.
He added that the success of agricultural production largely depends on the level of Mechanization.
In his Goodwill Message, the Chairman, Maize Farmers Association of Nigeria, Kaduna Chapter, Alhaji Lliyasu Muazu solicited for more support to the Manage Services Providers to ensure that farmers benefit from the programme across the 774 Local Government Areas.
Highlight of the event was the Official Flag off and Distribution of Tractors to Nigeria Farmers
In attendance were Hon. Commissioners of Agriculture in Kaduna, Katsina and Plateau States, All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN, Stakeholders among others.