By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
The Federal Government has raised about N500 billion (€995 million equivalent) to fund a leasing scheme for tractors and other agricultural machinery in the country.
The deal was under the in-kind facility for agricultural mechanisation to develop agricultural mechanization, recently approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
The in-kind facility is designed to help Nigeria attain food security, create jobs creation and diversify the economy from oil.
Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Agriculture, Dr.Andrew Kwasari, said this in Abuja at the weekend, adding that the agricultural machines would come from Brazil.
According to Kwasari, the agricultural machines from Brazil “will set the basic foundation across 632 Local Government Areas (LGAs) for proper agricultural service.”
These machines he said, would be leased out to the farmers “for fee operations by privately managed service centres in a competitive manner.”
Kwasari said: “services ranging from land preparation to harvest and storage will be provided timely and on demand to all farmers in a move to enhance productivity of smallholder farmers that don’t need to own tractors and implements.”
On processing plants, Kwasari said, “over 142 agro processing factories will be situated across all senatorial districts to create aggregation, intermediary and final processing of the increased farm outputs on the back of the 632 primary production supporting service centres in the respective LGAs.”
“This design logic is meant to prioritize tackling of the primary issues of post-harvest losses commonly suffered by smallholder farmers and also, to domesticate efficient supply chain operations where factories or aggregation hubs are closer to sources of raw material as well as strengthen quality and standards control for out grower scheme.”
On job creation, training and technological skill transfer, Kwasari, explained that “this programme has five years funded capacity development for all stakeholders.
He noted that the programme is “tailor-made to cater for the needs of private operators of the service centers, farmers, extension workers, regulatory and research institutions among others.”
These plans he said “are deliberate and focused in order to achieve economic handshakes along the various nodes of the interconnected agricultural value chains in Nigeria.”
When the programme takes off fully, it is expected to “create at least 5 million jobs and 35million nutritional and economic impacts on Nigerians.”
Kwasari also disclosed that “36 months from this approval, Nigeria will be food secured for the various plant and livestock related commodities identified to be supported by the programme across the states.”
He added that “every machinery and equipment supplied by the Brazilian manufacturers will come in Semi-Knocked-Down (SKD) and Completely Knocked Down (CKD) components to be assembled by Nigerian based local assembly plants in each geopolitical zone.”