FG To Intervene On Funding For Agric Mechanization
The Federal Government has directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to set aside a N50 billion mechanization intervention support fund.
This is to will allow for the speed up the full establishment of the 1,200 private sector driven Agricultural Equipment Hiring Enterprises (AEHE) across the states of the Federation.
The directive was given by Vice President Namadi Sambo while commissioning and flagging off the 100,000 metric tons grains Silos at Sheda, Federal Capital Territory (F. C. T.) and the Agricultural Equipment Hiring Centers in Nigeria, on behalf of President Goodluck Jonathan?
Sambo noted that, “as we produce more food, it has become necessary to expand our food storage capacity and reduce post-harvest losses. The development of strategic grains reserve is central to our policy of stabilizing food prices for consumers and assuring guaranteed minimum prices and market access for farmers”. He further stated, “that is why I launched the Agricultural Transformation Agenda in 2011, with the goal of producing an additional 20 million metric tons of food by 2015’. Vice President Sambo pointed out that current records indicate that 21 million metric tons were produced by Nigerian farmers surpassing this target and achieving increased food production in the past three years”.
The Vice President observed that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) has completed a total of six silos with a capacity of 250,000 metric tons (MT) since November 2013 with a further 625,000 MT silos to be completed by December 2014, making a total of 875,000 MT silos capacity completed within two years.
The Vice President expressed satisfaction that the Agricultural Transformation Agenda is achieving great strides in government’s efforts to turn Nigeria into a self sufficient country. He said, ‘our Growth Enhancement Scheme and the e-wallet system for reaching farmers with fertilizers and improved seeds through the mobile phones, have reached 14 million farmers by 2014’. He expressed delight that Nigeria is the first in Africa to develop the e-wallet system which is now being replicated in several African countries.
Vice President Sambo said that, “with the Agricultural Enterprise Hiring Enterprises (AEHEs) being launched today, the agricultural mechanization program will be driven through a public private partnership involving private sector manufacturers of tractors and agricultural machinery, service provider operators, financial institutions and government”.
He commended the Minister of Agriculture, Akinwunmi Adesina, the Minister of State, Asabe Ahmed and their team in the ministry for the impressive progress achieved under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda.
Earlier, the minister of Agriculture and Rural Development informed all that, private sector investments in agriculture are expanding. He explained that, all across the nation, small-holder farmers are witnessing a new dawn. “Our food import bill has declined from N 1.1 trillion
($ 6.9 billion) in 2009 to N 684.7 billion ($4.35 billion) by December 2013 and continues to decline in 2014’ he said. He however added that despite the gains, certain challenges remain. One of such challenges is the low level of mechanization of the agriculture sector. Farmers still toil with rudimentary implements; the high cost of land clearing is a major disincentive for the expansion of cultivated area; while the high cost of mechanization, from ploughing to harvesting, pose great challenges to farmers across the country. He appreciated President Jonathan for every support given to the Ministry saying, ‘your vision is our road map”.
Other dignitaries present at the event included the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HOCSF), Danladi Kifasi, Chinedu Nebo, Minister of Power, Sarah Ochekpe, Minister of Water Resources, Minister of National Planning, Abubakar Sulaiman, the Emirs, Etsu of Kwali and royal fathers and chiefs, representatives of Nigerian farmers, the private sector, entrepreneurs, CEO’s of Tractor Owners Association of Nigeria, banks and other relevant stakeholders.
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