Ogbeh Launches Agric Mechanisation Scheme
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, flaged-off of the second phase of the Agricultural Equipment Hiring Enterprise (AEHE), under the Mechanisation Intervention Programme (MIP), on Tuesday, at the National Centre For Agricultural Mechanisation (NCAM), in Ilorin, Kwara State.
The Minister commended his “predecessor, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, now President of the African Development Bank AfDB), in repositioning agriculture to the present level. He has laid a good foundation for reforming the sector. However, much is still left to be achieved, as the agricultural sector has suffered neglect for over 30 years of oil discovery.”
Ogbeh said the time was past when agriculture was done distributing hoes, machetes, axes and ordinary and low yielding seeds to farmers.
The minister lamented “the low level of mechanisation limits the ability of our farmers to expand cultivated areas, perform timely farm operations and achieve economies of scale in increasing food production.”
He said the total number of tractors in the country is estimated at about 35,000, over 50 per cent of which have broken down due to the nature of our farm lands, lack of sustainable products’ sales, service and poor maintenance culture.”
The event in Ilorin was the flag-off of high powered 110hp to 200hp precision farming tractors and other 295 tractors, various harvest and post-harvest equipment required to set up additional 60 AEHE centres.”
According to Ogbeh, “through these 60 AEHE centres, we will have 2,000 direct jobs created for the unemployed youths; 100,000 hectares of land mechanised; 500,000 metric tons of food added to national production.”
The minister challenged “the Service Provider Operators (SPOs) to reciprocate our efforts in setting up the Agricultural Equipment Hiring Centres by rendering affordable services to Nigerian farmers.” He promised that “Nigeria’s local farm technologies will be given attention, the efforts of our local fabricators will be encouraged. The first-ever local farm technology fabricators fair will be held in February/March 2016 to enable us identify local farm technology and companies that need to be promoted and commercialised.”
Dr. Muyideen Kasali, acting executive director of NCAM, said the Centre, the only one of its nature nationwide, “has the broad mandate to mechanise Nigeria’s agriculture.”
Mr. Olawale Ajibola, chairman of All Farmers’ Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Kwara State chapter, urged government not to drop the “Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GES). Rather, it should be revisited and given an improvement to encourage more value chains into the fold and increase the quantity of inputs and extension to other value chains, example: groundnut, soyabeans, vegetables, etc.”