Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The federal government has given a boost to mechanised farming in the country by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Nigerian Agricultural Mechanisation and Equipment Leasing Company (NAMEL) and John Deere, to supply 10,000 tractors to rural farmers across the country.
The MoU to engage John Deere was signed by Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Chief Audu Ogbeh; the Director General of NAMEL, Dr Hammed Adekunle; and the Managing Director, Sub-Saharan Africa of John Deere, Jason Brantley.
Through the agreement, John Deere would set up assembling plants for tractors in the country.
The tractors would be delivered through 2,500 Agricultural Equipment Hiring Enterprises (AEHE).
Ogbeh, underscored the need by farmers to improve relationship with John Deere to boost agriculture in the country and tackle the repeated failures in the past to address challenges of mechanised farming.
â€œIf you want to know how difficult it is to own and operate a tractor, try and buy one. Tractors Owners and Hiring Facility Association of Nigeria (TOHFAN) achieved a feat by increasing the number of tractors from five to almost 600m.
â€œWe have invented something because I do not see any country in Africa that wants to grow its agriculture that can avoid adopting the method have perfected in the last four years,â€ Ogbeh said
He appealed to John Deere which has been involved in mechanised farming in Africa since 1878, to take advantage of federal government plan to revive the steel industry in the country by setting up assembling and fabrication plants.
Brantley noted that John Deere would in line with the MoU deploy world class mechanised equipment to the farmers with support from the AEHE .
“Plans are afoot to as quickly as possible begin to assemble all the tractors and implements by Nigerians in line with our agreement. We will also offer local currency financing under 10 per cent which is almost unheard of.
â€œThe reliability and support is built into the machines so that they run â€“ tractors donâ€™t run or feed anybody, they have to run and it takes a significant investment we prepared to make that a reality.
â€œEvery of these tractors will have hello tractor telematics solutions to enable efficient management, operation and maintenance. We have plans to train the operators and technicians. Thatâ€™s what we are bringing to the table,â€ Brantley said.