The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwumi Adesina has said the Federal Government is set to inaugurate 600 agricultural equipment hiring centres across the country in two weeks.
Adesina said this in a statement in Abuja.
The minister restated the Government’s commitment to be self sufficient in rice production by 2015.
He said the centres will have heavy farm machines that would enable farmers move from small scaled agriculture to full scale mechanization at an affordable rate.
He said: “We will be rolling out in exactly two weeks, 600 agricultural equipment hiring centres across the country that would have tractors and full components of mechanisation so that farmers can go and actually hire these equipment.
“We have also developed through the National Centre for Agricultural Mechanization and the African Rice Centre small threshers that are quite affordable for farmers.
“We have declared over 55 of these threshers across the country to help them thresh and winnow their rice.”
He said Nigeria needs about 17 million tonnes of paddy rice to feed its populace, adding that 9.2 million tonnes have been achieved.
According to him, the country will achieve 13million tonnes at the end of 2014 dry season.
Adesina said that with the increase in paddy rice pyramid in the North, there is need to increase investment in rice mills.
He said the country has been able to attract private investment of about 1.5 billion dollars into local rice production, adding that Nigeria will be a net exporter of rice in few years.
“We are well on our way to be self sufficient in rice prodcution. We are doing quite a lot in milling and massive level of investment is going into rice mills to enable us do finished rice.”
He said through the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme, a lot of farmers has been empowered and corruption has been eliminated from distribution of fertilizer as seed, adding that fertilizer companies were increasing investment.
He noted that the National Assembly would soon commence the process of enacting a law that would back the GES to ensure sustainability.
He said budgetary support for agriculture was likely to increase since the ministry has effectively utilise the little budgetary allocation to the sector which added 17 million tonnes of additional food.
Adesina said that at the end of 2015, the Federal Government would have surpassed the target of 20million metric tonnes by adding additional 22 million tonnes of food.