The current drive by the Federal Government for Nigeria to attain food sufficiency may still be a mirage unless drastic measures are taken to transit from traditional to modern method of farming.
Thus, in view of the current trend, stakeholders have submitted that the country is still far from the global standard in terms of the number of tractors per land area that farmers own.
This was the submission of Friday Ali of the Greenhouse Unit of the Agriculture Division of Dizengoff Group Nigeria while speaking at the Monthly Forum of the Nigerian Association of Agricultural Journalists (NAAJ) in Lagos.
According to him countries like the United States of America (USA) with 250 tractors per one thousand square kilometres, leaves the country on the edge with less than 50 tractors per one thousand square kilometres adjudged as far from the Africa standard.
He said: “With what we are projecting you will discover that Nigeria is still very far from the global standard in terms of the number of tractors per land area that farmers own.
“We can see that while countries like USA are having a record of 250 tractors per one thousand square kilometres, Nigeria is still far below 50 tractors per one thousand square kilometres. That is a wide gap; even India is ahead of us. We are even below the Africa standard,” he added.
While admitting that Nigeria still have a long way to go, he however, reminded journalists that the onus lie on them to educate the farmers through their reportage and create awareness on what mechanisation could do for the nation’s agricultural sector.
“I don’t need to start lecturing us today on the use of tractors and implements on our farms in terms of farm power, in terms of haulage, tillage, planting, spraying, a lot of things that tractors and implements can do for our farmers.
“So, if we want to take our place rightly in Africa, we must not rest on our oars, we must be on our toes to create this awareness with States and Federal Governments using whatever available means through cooperatives and organising farmers in clusters.
“We know it may be difficult for an average farmer to own the tractor and actually, if you must get the tractor, there must be minimum hectare for you to use those tractors efficiently so that they don’t lie fallow.
Adding, “We are far below global standard and in Dizengoff, with what we are doing before now, we will still continue to play our role by making quality tractors, good quality implements and good after sales services and with the spare parts available at the right time for our farmers to be helped in mechanising their operations on the farm”, he added.
Ali further pointed out that if Nigeria must move forward in the agricultural sector, her people must move away from hoes and cutlasses agriculture to mechanised agriculture, saying that farmers must have access to good tractors that would deliver as well as good implements that would turn the land around.
Speaking further he said agriculture is not all about tilling the land, processing, saying that crop protection can also be achieved through mechanisation.
“Of what use is it to farmers who laboured, tilled the land and he does not have the right range of equipment to use in crop protection? Over the years, as I mentioned, we have been involved in the sector making the right equipment for farmers for crop protection.
He stated that over a period of two to five years, the company has been able to sell well over 300 units of tractors per annum, adding that over 90 per cent of these tractors from the company’s records are still functional and delivering service to the farmers.
However, Antti Ritvonen, Country Manager for Dizengoff Nigeria, stated that the company will deliver 50 units of the 75HP CASE IH tractors to tractor service providers.
Assuring that the tractors would be delivered in two batches within 30 days, he stated that it is good news to the Nigerian farmers, as it is aimed at providing the much needed farm mechanisation services to the Nigerian farmers.
He assures customers of Dizengoff’s commitment to supporting their operations.
“We assure you of our best in class after sales support, to minimise any downtime. We are determined and committed to providing quality machinery services to all of our tractor owners in Nigeria”.
“With our exclusive partnership agreement with CASE IH in the delivery of tractors in Nigeria, which include technical support in the areas of training, after sales service support and constant supply of genuine spare parts, we are committed to provide the best possible solution at a most affordable price to all the Nigerian farmers” he said.
Similarly, Damisa Enahoro, the company’s Commercial Manager, Tractor and Implements, said: “We are excited as a company to be able to share our technical know-how and quality service delivery, coupled with our many years of experience in providing agricultural solutions to the Nigerian farmers.”
“Our robust after sales support services; from training of personnel, servicing of the tractors to ensuring availability of genuine spare parts, have been our unique advantage over other companies.
“We are also confident in the CASE IH brand of tractor, knowing it is a world class tractor, with over 175 years of providing excellent and superior machineries.
He said through this delivery, farmers across the country, both large scale and smallholders farmers can begin to have increased access to tractors for their farm operations.
Enahoro added that the tractor initiative with tractor service provider will help increase the income of farmers, reduce production costs and help create opportunities for farmers in the country, adding that one of the issues limiting the increase of food production in the country is poor level of mechanisation.
Meanwhile, Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development has said the three federal universities of agriculture were established to advance the cause of agricultural transformation and modernisation in Nigeria for the development of core competencies in agricultural education, research and training, amongst others.
He charged the governing councils in universities to advance the cause of agricultural transformation and modernisation in Nigeria, and become more innovating to boost food production as they are now being returned to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture as part of agricultural reforms the government hopes will help revive the sector.
He stated this while receiving members of the governing councils of federal universities of agriculture in Abuja. He assured lecturers and students engaged in non-agricultural studies in the three universities of agriculture that their careers will not be jeopardised.
According to him, “It is, therefore, expected that the admission policy of these universities will largely be reflective of this overarching goal. Our submission is that, in the long run, the universities will be better served if they focus on their core areas of business rather than on the subsidiaries,” Ogbeh said.
As institutions of agricultural education and research, according to him, you can earn huge revenues from agricultural research, seed and seedling development, extension work, soil mapping and even production of food on campus.
He advised that greater priority should be given to courses with agriculture related content.
“We do not forbid the teaching of electives like some accounting, business administration and so on, but only as subsidiaries. The main courses must be agriculture, agronomy, botany, animal husbandry, forestry, fishery, plant entomology, breeding, cattle breed improvement, agric engineering, veterinary medicine,” he said.
Speaking further he said the return of the three universities of agriculture to the ministry is a rational, just and timely action, necessitated by the new economic realities to ensure that institutions are better focused, more efficiently and economically managed.
Nigeria’s three universities of agriculture are: Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta; University of Agriculture, Makurdi, and Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike