The Agricultural Equipment Hiring Operators Association has disclosed that efforts to upscale agriculture in Nigeria has been stalled by a deficit in the number of tractors available to practice mechanised farming.
In a report contained in _The Guardian,_ National Secretary of the association, Mr. Biodun Olugbami, stated that only about 7,000 to 10,000 tractors were available in the country.
He added that the country needed about 70,000 functional tractors in order to achieve her agricultural mechanisation agenda.
A tractor-deficiency assessment, which also supports the claims of the association, reveals that an improvement in the mechanisation services of the country, will subsequently increase food production.
As the Corona Virus pandemic slows down food production activities, there is need for the government to fast-track its agric mechanisation initiative.
Professor Adebayo Kolawole of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) on his part, recommended that Nigeria approach the mechanisation challenges in three sequential and overlapping stages.
According to the Prof., collaboration must be made between the government and private partners to import tractors. He said also, that the government must focus on activating private sector investments.
He also added capacity development for building, distributing and commercialising locally made tractors and other farm equipment, as the final bailout.
The National Centre for Agricultural Mechanisation (NCAM) and agricultural research institutes, in Prof. Kolawole’s remarks, also has a key role to play in this quest.
From the same Varsity, Professor Moruf Adebisi, equally suggested that farmers cooperatives should be encouraged and made to provide inputs and tractor hiring services to members.
He said that the government should establish agro service centres, at least one or two in each local government area, with at least four to five strong and durable tractors at a subsidised rate of hiring.
Adebisi further urged the government to encourage individuals to own tractors at subsidised rate, adding that the pre-payment period should be long enough to encourage farmers.