The implementation of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Nigerian government and its Chinese counterpart is to beginning soon.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, has inaugurated three committees that will implement the agreement between the Federal Government and the China-Africa Machinery Corporation CAMACO on Agricultural Mechanization System AMS in Abuja.
Under the programme, Nigeria’s stock of tractors will be increased while assemblage plants will be set up in Nigeria to improve the supply of tractors. Farmers will also be able to acquire tractors and defray the cost over a period of 7 to 8years at a single digit interest rate.
Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture Chief Audu Ogbeh says the programme is important to the development of agriculture in Nigeria, adding that, it has been on the drawing board.
States that will be covered by the agreement include Zamfara, Adamawa, Jigawa, Ebonyi, Katsina, Niger, Taraba and Sokoto State.
Nigeria is very low on tractors. Over 70% farmers in the country still engage in the traditional hoe and cutlass crop cultivation.
According to Audu Ogbeh, “There are less than 30,000 tractors in Nigeria and we should at least as at today have a million. This partnership with CAMACO is an attempt to catch up with our shortfalls in tractors and increase our mechanization to make it easier for agriculture to take place. Increased mechanization is even more important now that we are trying to encourage the youth to embrace agriculture”.
He urged the China-Africa Corporation to ensure that certain climatic conditions are considered as the tractors are manufactured for the country, noting that in some parts of the country, temperatures could rise to as high as 40 degrees and advised that the company should take a good look at their engine cooling systems.
“Some parts of the north are very dusty, so your air filters must be designed to fit appropriately. You must also build these tractors bearing in mind that we need them to last 15 to 20 years at the very least.
We don’t have money to repeat purchases of machinery every two years. We need solid machinery, very well designed machines to cope with the climatic conditions and the nature of our soil. We are also intending to keep after sales services in top gear”, he added.
Chief Ogbeh described the current hardship Nigerians are going through as very disturbing but expressed the hope that with agriculture taking place all-year round through irrigation and with increased mechanization, there is no reason why Nigeria should not be able to produce the food that it eats.
The Minister informed the CAMACO group that two Nigerian Engineers had built mini tractors designed for small scale farmers and appealed for technical support in improving the locally built machinery to promote local agricultural mechanization and to create room for small farmers to own tractors.
The three standing committees inaugurated are: the Project Management Committee; Technical Implementation Committee and the Expert Consultative Group, which shall have the responsibility among others to oversee the day to day monitoring of the projects on site, offer advisory services and report findings to the committee.
Memberships of the committees were drawn from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development; the National Centre for Agricultural Mechanization; Participating States; Ministry of Finance; Ministry Water Resources and Ministry of Works. Governors of Katsina and Adamawa States and Some State Commissioners of Agriculture were in attendance.
CAMACO is a venture funded by the China African Development Fund – CADFund as a strategic partnership built and developed between China and Africa, with the purpose of encouraging and supporting Chinese enterprises to invest in Africa.