Food security: Nigeria needs N13trn on mechanisation – Expert

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By Emmanuel Afonne

Abuja, Aug. 9, 2022 (NAN) Mr Chijioke Okoli, Country Director, Agriculture and Construction Equipment Division (John Deere Brand) TATA Africa Services (Nigeria) Limited says the country needs 13 trillion naira to solve its mechanisation problem.

Okoli said this in Abuja at a micro documentary screening organised by Alluvial Agriculture Nigeria Limited, a private organisation working to enable smallholder farmers contribute their quota in ensuring the country attained food security.

The title of the programme is “aiding women’s access in farm mechanisation”.

He said that the 13 trillion naira would be channeled more into the acquisition of tractors.

“If we want to set it right in mechanisation, we need to look at India. India absorbed 903,000 tractors in one year, while Nigeria absorbed 200 tractors,” he said.

According to Okoli, Nigeria has about 34 million arable hectares and will need about 377,000 tractors if it must complete the task of land preparation of that size of land within one month.

“As we speak today, we don’t even have 7000 functional tractors in the whole country.

“One can easily say that India’s landmass is 156 million hectares of arable land, while Nigeria has 34 million hectares.

“We should be talking about 100,000 tractors to think of mechanising agriculture in the country; but here we are with about 200 tractors successfully pushed into the market.

“A year before this, India absorbed more than 800,000 tractors. So, in the space of two years, India absorbed 1.7million brand new tractors,” Okoli said.

Mr Dimieari Kemedi, founder and Managing Director of Arila Group, noted that the key to agriculture was mechanisation.

Kemedi who is one of the panelists at the programme, said that any serious government must consolidate on its agriculture for it to develop.

“As long as agriculture is not sufficiently financed, the results will not be right. We have to be more deliberate.”

He regretted that most donors and financial institutions in the country prefer to give loans to smallholder farmers to cultivate just one hectare of land because they assume that the farmers were going to cultivate by hand.

Kemedi also explained that the financial institutions expected the farmers to make an equity contribution, and that many farmers cannot make the equity contribution even for one hectare.

Ms Naona Usoroh, the Environmental, Social and Governance Lead at Alluvial Agriculture Nigeria Limited said the organisation had successfully trained 50 women in tractor operations.

Usoroh said the essence of the programme was to highlight how the training impacted one of the trainees, Mariam Danjuma.

“This shows the possibilities that are there for women, not just to operate tractors but also to own tractor businesses.

“We had modules on personal development and a couple of them have shown capacity in doing so many things and Alluvial in conjunction with their partners to design tractors and programmes for these women,” Usoroh said.

Another panelist, Mrs Tolulope Babajide, Gender Network Manager at FSD Africa, said women who are among smallholder farmers find it difficult to get finance.

Babajide noted that smallholder farmers who were mainly women are based in the rural areas and as such needed to be assisted to achieve their desire.