The minister made this known on Tuesday in Abuja while inaugurating the committees for the implementation of the MoU between the federal government, participating state governments and the China-Africa Machinery Corporation (CAMACO) on agricultural mechanisation system.
CAMACO is a venture funded by the China-African Development Fund (CADFund) as a strategic partnership built and developed between China and Africa, with the purpose of encouraging and supporting Chinese enterprises to invest in Africa.
Chief Ogbeh, “There are less than 30,000 tractors in Nigeria and we should at least, as at today, have a million. This partnership with CAMACO is an attempt to catch up with our shortfalls in tractors and increase our mechanisation to make it easier for agriculture to take place. Increased mechanisation is even more important now that we are trying to encourage the youth to embrace agriculture. This is a very important programme that has been on the drawing board.”
The programme, designed to increase Nigeria’s stock of tractors and improve on mechanisation through the supply of tractors to be assembled locally, will be implemented in Adamawa, Ebonyi, Jigawa, Katsina, Niger, Sokoto, Taraba and Zamfara states. The partnership will involve credit partnership with farmers to obtain and pay over a period of seven to eight years at a single digit interest rate.
The minister expressed concern about the hardship Nigerians are currently going through, but expressed the hope that all-year-round agriculture through irrigation and increased mechanisation, should put Nigeria’s agricultural output on the path of self-sufficiency. “Coming from China, you know what it takes to feed a large population, you have succeeded. We can succeed here too,” he told the CAMACO delegation.
He urged the delegation to consider the climatic conditions of the states in the design of the tractors, noting that, in some parts of the country, temperatures could rise to as high as 40 degrees. He therefore advised the company to take a good look at their engine cooling systems. “Some parts of the north are very dusty, so your air filters must be designed to fit appropriately. You must also build these tractors, bearing in mind that we need them to last 15 to 20 years at the very least. We don’t have money to repeat purchases of machinery every two years. We need solid machinery, very well designed machines to cope with the climatic conditions and the nature of our soil. We are also intending to keep after-sales services in top gear,” he added.
While informing the CAMACO group that two Nigerian Engineers have built mini-tractors designed for small scale farmers, Chief Ogbeh appealed for technical support in improving the locally-built machinery to promote local agricultural mechanisation and to create room for small farmers to own tractors.
The three standing committees inaugurated by the minister were on project management, technical implementation and expert consultative group, with the responsibility of overseeing the day to day monitoring of the projects on site, offering advisory services and reporting findings to the committee. Memberships were drawn from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the National Centre for Agricultural Mechanization (NCAM), participating states, Federal Ministry of Finance, Ministry Water Resources and Federal Ministry of Works. The meeting was attended by governors of Katsina and Adamawa States and some state commissioners of agriculture.