Abuja – Mr Ahmed Adekunle, Senior Special Adviser to Minister of Agriculture on Mechanisation, said the Federal Government was working toward improving mechanised farming in the country for massive food production.
He made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Monday, on the sideline of the three-day Consultative Forum and Core Delivery Team Capacity Building, in Abuja, organised by Synergos Nigeria.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Synergos Nigeria is a global, non-profit organisation working in Kogi, Benue and Kaduna, with special intervention on rice and cassava production in the country.
Its objective is to reduce global poverty through partnership between government, business, civil society and local communities.
Adekunle, who is also the Chairman, Advisory Ministerial Mechanisation Committee, said for a country to be self sufficient in food production, mechanisation had become expedient in order to discourage importation.
“Mechanisation is key in our agricultural sector and for us to achieve massive food production, we need to do away with hoes and cutlasses and embrace mechanisation.
“Although mechanisation is a huge investment, the Federal Government has developed the Agricultural Equipment Hiring Enterprise (AEHE) that runs under the private sector-driven mechanisation framework.
“Government is also going into partnership with private sector to make equipment available.
‘’ In this scheme, government will be contributing 35 per cent while the private will put in 65 per cent, based on the bankable package put together,’’ he said.
“There is no alternative to mechanisation farming in the country; the challenge is for us to find a way on how to do some financial engineering.
“How can our research institution extension workers increase production per hectare.
‘’How can we double our production, that is double cropping per annual, through irrigation.
“If we can apply double cropping, increase our production per hectare, do some financial engineering, cost effective where government give some grants, then the cost of mechanisation will level up.”
Adekunle,who said the percentage of mechanisation farming stood at 2 to 3 per cent, described the development as very low, compared to other countries doing very well in agriculture.
He advised states to plant what they had comparative advantage on, and urged Federal Government to address some of the challenges in the agricultural sector, especially in the area of mechanisation.
According to Adekunle, this is necessary to bring the price of agricultural equipment to the level farmers could afford them.
He said the Federal Government was discussing with the Governments of China and Brazil, and some groups in agricultural mechanisation in the country to increase food production through mechanised farming.(NAN)