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May 29, 2024

‘Deploy Technology to Revolutionise Nigeria’s Agricultural Sector,’  TOOAN Tells Govt 

Abasiofon Udo 

National President, Tractor Owners and Operators Association of Nigeria (TOOAN), Engr. Bitrus Elesa Yakubu, has called on the government to utilize technology and innovation to revolutionize the Nigerian agricultural sector.

In his address at the 5th National Productivity Summit, Yakubu stressed that the sector’s growth depends on the deployment of machines and access to affordable funding.

Yakubu lamented that Nigeria has to depend on imports despite its vast agricultural land.

“Our agricultural land is twice the size of Ukraine as a country, but we import wheat from them. They also have so many tonnes in their warehouses,” he said.

“How have they been able to do this? It is through the deployment of technology and innovation. The fertilizer we use in Nigeria, we import most of it from Ukraine.

“Despite the war that has been there for more than two years, they are not importing food, and that is because they are self-sufficient.”

Yakubu outlined the challenges faced by local farmers, including the high cost of farm machinery and inputs such as pesticides and fertilizers.

“Inputs such as pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, and high-quality seeds, as well as payments for labor and finance for research and development, are crucial for the growth of the agricultural sector, and funds are required to carry out all these operations.”

He explained that the high cost of farm machinery and the ineffectiveness of past government interventions pose a major challenge to Nigeria’s agricultural development.

He, therefore, called on the government to identify qualified mechanization service providers who would equip large-scale farmers with the necessary machinery to serve a wider range of farmers and facilitate agricultural development.

“In Nigeria, farm machinery is beyond the reach of the average farmer, and using traditional hand tools can never develop the sector. Hence, the need for the government to intervene.

“For instance, the tractor I bought in 2014 for 5.1 million, today, it is 33 million. How many farmers can afford it?

“It has been observed that this farm machinery cannot be effectively managed by the public sector. These tractors may be poorly maintained, and revenue rarely gets back to the government. Also, the local farmer may never get to see the equipment.

“The best approach, therefore, is for the government to collaborate with mechanization service providers. Due to the importance of this sector to the national economy, it is necessary to identify experienced and competent mechanization service providers.

“The government should also identify some large-scale farmers and grant them loans with single-digit interest rates and a five-year tenure through banks selected and funded by the government.”

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