Jonathan Directs CBN to Set Aside N50bn Agric Mechanisation Fund
IMAGE: President Goodluck Jonathan, Nigerian President »
President Goodluck Jonathan has directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to set aside N50 billion as agricultural mechanisation intervention fund for farmers in the country.
The president gave the directive yesterday in Abuja while inaugurating a 100,000 metric tons silo as well as an agricultural equipment hiring enterprise.
Jonathan, who was represented by Vice-President Namadi Sambo stated that expanding the country’s food storage capacity was necessary to reduce post-harvest losses.
He also said that agricultural mecahnisation would ensure commercial production of agric produce in the country.
“As part of our efforts to replace the hoes and cutlasses with modern agricultural equipment, I direct the Central Bank of Nigeria to set aside N50 billion mechanisation intervention fund. “This support fund will allow and speed up the full establishment of 1200 private sector driven agricultural equipment hiring enterprises across all states of the federation,” he said.
He said the silos, which has a capacity of 100,000 metric tons is one of the several others that had been completed across the country.
According to him, the network of silos across the country will help provide stock for food and will also be leased to the private sector to use to store grains and support agriculture commodity exchange for Nigeria.”
He explained that the Agricultural Transformation Agenda would support food production and in turn make Nigeria a player in global food and agricultural market.
“For too long, our farmers have depended on rudimentary tools such as hoe and cutlasses, the small scale farmers that produce 80 per cent of our food have very little or no access to modern agricultural machinery.
“This low level of agricultural mechanisation limits the ability of our farmers to expand. The federal government is working to enable the private sector to be involved and rapidly raise the level of mechanisation in the country,” he added.
Speaking on the mechanisation drive, Jonathan said: “The federal government will not buy and distribute tractors in partnership with the state, with what we are launching today, government is putting in place a new modern where private sector driven mechanisation services and programmes will be rolled out across Nigeria through a private-public partnership.”
The scheme, according to the president would offer a minimum of 6,000 units of tractors and 13,000 units of harvest and post-harvest equipment and establish 1,200 agricultural equipment hiring enterprises to provide mechanisation services to farmers.
“The first phase which am commissioning today will make available immediately 500 units of tractors, 500 power tillers and harvest and post-harvest equipment which will be used to set up 118 agricultural equipment hiring enterprises across the country.
“The federal government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has made available N4.5 billion through the Bank of Agriculture.
“The financing arrangement request the government to provide 35 per cent of the loan, Bank of Agriculture to finance 35 per cent the agro machinery vendors to provide 10 per cent and the service provider operator will provide 25 per cent equity to uptake the agricultural equipment hiring enterprises,” he added.
On his part, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina in his remark said Nigeria’s food import bill has declined from N1.9 trillion in 2009 to N684 billion by December 2013.
He identified the challenges of agriculture in Nigeria as low mechanisation, adding that a farmer with access to a tractor will be able to cultivate 10 hectares per day compared to 1 hectare per day if it’s done manually.
Article Credit: Thisdaylive