The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has revealed that about 632 Local Government Areas (LGAs) across the country will benefit from its new agricultural mechanisation programme.
The initiative, according to the ministry involves technology package transfer that would cover all stages, from agricultural production to industrial processing and down to marketing and offers an opportunity from groups and investors within the LGAs to partner in the management of the service centers.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Nanono, stated this recently when he received the Executive Governor of Benue State, Dr, Samuel Ortom, in Abuja.
He said the policy would ensure that Nigeria achieved food security, job creation and economic growth, adding that the programme would offer about 632 LGAs a brand new tractor fully equipped with Information Technology workshop, 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.
“The investment of potential manager of the service centers may not be more than N5 million to N6 million, but they will own assets worth the tune of N150 million for a period of 15 years.
“The loan we are getting can only finance 10,000 tractors. The gap for improvement in terms of bridging the gap in agricultural mechanisation is so huge. But we hope that this will work very well so that the private sector can drive it.
“A tractor that works for an estimated N 60,000 to N75, 000 per day, can make income of about N30, 000 to N40, 000 per day after expenses and with this the service centers can pay for the tractor in an average of 6-7 years. Mark you, the tractors can last for about 25 years,” he said.
On his part, Ortom stressed that Nigeria’s major challenge was not security problem alone, but unemployment, adding that agriculture remained the sector with the capacity for creation of jobs and wealth for the teeming jobless youths.
“If we are able to engage the youths, we will have fewer problems in the country and we are committed to partnering and collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to ensure we provide food security for Nigeria and beyond.
“Benue state is 35,000 sq meter of land, more than 95 percent of the land is arable and most of the food produced in the country can be produced in Benue state. And they are able to do all year round farming,” he said.