NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT TO INVEST HEAVILY IN MODERN FARM MACHINERY
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Audu Ogbeh, speaking at the flag-off of the second phase of the Agricultural Equipment Hiring Enterprise, said it would be unthinkable and counterproductive, to think of developing agriculture in Nigeria by continuing to distribute hoes, machetes, axes and ordinary and low-yielding seeds to farmers. This government is committed to achieving an all-inclusive growth, as no country can practice agriculture sustainably without agricultural mechanization." Ogbeh explained that the low level of mechanisation limits the ability of farmers to expand cultivated areas, perform timely farm operations and achieve economies of scale in increasing food production."
He added that Europe today is over-mechanised, USA is completely mechanised, but regretted that in African countries, including Nigeria, only five per cent of farm labour is done using tractors. "Although Nigeria, for a very long time, has not conducted a valid inventory of our tractor density, this may be less than five tractors to 1,000 hectares." Audu Ogbeh noted that with the renewed commitment of the present administration to end unbridled importation of all kinds of food items, making the country self-sufficient in food will deepen and widen the Private Sector-Driven Agricultural Mechanisation Framework (PSDAMF), strategies in partnership with local fabricators and manufacturer representatives. "This flag-off serves as the commencement of the Buhari Administration's vision to aggressively commercialise and mechanise Nigeria's agriculture by introducing about 2,000 units of tractors and various kinds of harvesting and processing equipment to mechanize our farming annually, while also building Nigerian local content and capacity to sustain and advance mechanization to suit best practices worldwide."
NIGERIA CAN LEVERAGE ON THE GROWING POPULATION TO GROW MORE FOOD CROPS -Ogbeh
The Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh has said that the country could put the growing population into good use by increasing local production of food crops. The Minister posited that Nigeria's population which would grow up to 200 million people by the year 2020 could be an advantage for food production if the country could hasten to lift the agricultural sector to the level of China, India and other nations of the western world.
The Minister said "In four years time, our population will be 200 million people and we can put that population into good use if we have the capacity and more organized like the Chinese or Indians". Chief Audu Ogbeh made this known when he received in audience a delegation from the Kingdom of the Netherlands led by its Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. John Groffen in his office.
He maintained that there is an urgent need for the country to grow more food crops in order to meet the demands of her growing population and sought for more supports from the international community towards the sustainable development of the country's agricultural sector. According to him, Nigeria's agricultural sector would require international supports in its programmes and initiatives such as the Cattle breeding improvement, climate change, standardization and certification of food products, seed development and improvement, capacity building among others.
Chief Ogbeh further sought assistance from the Netherland government on area of machineries that could convert shafts from rice mills in the country to briquettes for household uses, adding that, the present administration was poised to take life back to the rural areas, mostly for women and youths . He stated that the Ministry was working in collaboration with other relevant ministries like the Ministries of Works, Environment, Water Resources and Industry, Trade and Investment to grow and develop the country's agricultural sector.
Earlier, the Netherlands Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. John Groffen who led the delegation said the purpose of their visit was to explore areas of collaboration with the Ministry, describing the challenges facing the nation's agricultural sector as enormous. The Ambassador stated that Nigeria and Netherlands which had in existence a business relationship would now enjoy symbiotic sustainable development enterprises, with an assurance that varied opportunities inherent in Nigeria's agricultural sector would be showcased to potential investor in Netherlands.
He assured the Ministry of continued supports of Netherlands government in up- scaling the growth of Nigeria's agricultural sector.