By Victoria Onehi
The Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Senator Abubakar Kyari, has said Nigeria farmers are grossly under mechanised hence the Federal Governments drive to help farmers procure 2000 tractors.
The Minister stated this yesterday in Abuja at the signing of Memorandum of Understanding ceremony between John Deere Private Limited and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security.
“Nigeria is grossly under mechanised. I saw a figure of 50,000 working and serviceable tractor in Nigeria today. And with a country with about 70,000 million hectares , it is grossly inadequate.
“The original arrangement is 2,000 tractors yearly for five years but it depends on how much the farmers are willing to take.
“This is purely a partnership for the offtake for the farmers not the government taking. What the government is supposed to do is to have an environment that is very conducive for John Deere to sell the tractors to the farmers.
“The minimum is 2,000 tractors per year for five years, as the demand increases, we will be glad to have more. ” Kyari said.
The Minister said the potentials are enormous and is to address the agricultural challenge that farmers have in terms of recapitalisation and mechanisation.
The Minister said the federal government will make sure that the Ease of doing Business is achieved to create access for finance for farmers so that they can purchase the tractors at hire purchase terms.
“Initially, it was a payback period of four years and it was too short for the farmers, let it be a bit longer for five to six years, and with the prospects and potential of Agriculture we have seen, we have seen farmers pay within two and a half year. For the Smallholder farmers five or six years is adequate.”Kyari said.
The Vice President of John Deere Private Limited,Jason Braintley said the focus is on mechanisation and bringing more yield into production for Nigeria and bringing about food security.
Braintley said: “One of the components that we’re working on together as part of the agreement is to identify the most effective financing solutions that can be made available for customers to purchase these tractors. The way the Smart Campaign works, is it individual contractors, small contractors and SMEs, purchase the assets and then put them into productive use. So yes, finance has got to be one of the key areas that’s part of the focus.”
The Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security Dr Ernest Umakhihe who signed on behalf of the Ministry said the MoU is generic and will usher in more MoUs and guidelines on implementing the agreement reached. ” The President himself is interested in this process.We will not just sign and leave it,we are going to have a technical group to continue to interface.”Umakhihe said.