The Federal Government on Monday promised to complete silos under construction across the country in order to attain 1.3 million metric tonne-capacity by December.
Dr Akinwumi Adesina, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, made the promise at the inauguration of 100,000 metric tonne Silo Complex and Private-Sector Driven Agricultural Equipment Hiring Enterprises in Kwali, FCT.
He named the silos to be completed as those in Birnin Kebbi, Maiduguri and Ado Ekiti, (100, 000 metric tonnes each, and Igbariam, Anambra, 25,000 metric tonnes.
Adesina, said that Nigeria’s food import bill had declined from N1.1trillion in 2009 to N684 billion by Dec. 2013 through the Agricultural Transformation Agenda.
According to him, the silos will go a long way to tackle food waste and post-harvest losses.
“There is no doubt that the agriculture sector is growing rapidly, private sector investment in agriculture is also expanding across our nation. [eap_ad_1] “Small holder farmers are witnessing a refreshing dawn but the challenges in the sector are the low level of mechanisation.
“Therefore, Nigeria must as a matter of urgency and priority, fully mechanise the agricultural sector; this will unleash the hope and market for farmers”, he said.
Adesina said the launching of Agricultural Equipment Hiring Enterprise was private-sector driven to provide farming equipment for farmers. “It will ensure that the ministry no longer buys nor distributes tractors again.
“A farmer with tractor will be able to plant 10 hectares per day compared to one hectare per day done manually with human labour, hoe and cutlasses.
“The number of tractors per 100 kilometres square in Nigeria is less than 10 compared to 728 in the UK, 257 in the US, 200 in India, 130 in Brazil and 125 in Philippines.
“To improve on this, we have left it fully to the private sector to drive the mechanisation’’, he said.
A farmer, Mr Samaila Madaki, said the farm equipment would translate their productivity from subsistence to profitable agric-businesses when fully utilised.
Mrs Aisha Nwaru, a farmer in Kwali, said that the maize and rice seedlings subsidised by the Federal Government yielded better and cooked faster.
They applauded Federal Government’s efforts in establishing facilities in their council area. (NAN)