The experts urged the government to provide Special Agric Mechanisation Intervention Fund (SAMIF)
Experts canvass innovative farming to boost agro productivity : Experts in the agricultural sector are canvassing for improved technology and innovative farming to boost farmers’ productivity and improve yield per hectare.
The experts identified low use of technology and innovation in the sector as the biggest challenge confronting Nigerian farmers as low yield per hectare persist.
“Mechanisation is not negotiable if we will be self sufficient and boost productivity. We need to introduce machines in the cultivation of our rice and other crops if truly we are serious about attaining self-sufficiency,” Rotimi Fashola, senior partner, OIT Fash Consult Told BusinessDay.
He noted that the bulk of the food produce in the country are still grown with cutlasses and hoes by smallholder farmers who grows over 70 percent of what we eat as a nation.
Available statistics show that Nigeria is one of the least mechanised farming countries in the world with the country’s tractor density put at 0.27 hp/ hectare which is far below the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)’s 1.5hp/hectare recommended tractor density for Africa and other developing countries.
When measured on mechanisation scale in 2003, 12 years ago, Nigeria had only 30,000 tractors and currently adding 1,000 new ones each year, which is still not considered sufficient in replacing the ones that are aging, broken down and worn out.
Ibrahim Kabiru, national president, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) said, “we must be innovative in our design, implementation and execution of agricultural programs, projects and activities in agriculture now.”
“How do we even track the progress we make? How much do we devote to research on this? These are issues that need to be factored in at the moment,” Kabiru said.
Abiodun Olorundero, chief executive officer of Green Vine Farms stated that what may mitigate further progress made so far in the agriculture sector is lack of technology.
“Lack of technology and innovation remains one of the reasons why we still have a shortfall in production. Technology is very crucial if Nigeria really wants to boost agric productivity. Government must key into agriculture using technology to attract the youth,” Olorundero said.
Nigeria is listed among the least countries in the world with mechanised farming. The use of agricultural machinery is still below what is considered necessary to meet the rising demand for food, as stipulated by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
AfricanFarmer Mogaji, chief executive officer, X-ray Farms Limited said, “It is time the government takes the issue of mechanisation very seriously. Without mechanisation we cannot get the level of productivity required to feed ourselves”
“Youths can only find agriculture attractive when there are innovations and machines to do the drudgery”
The experts urged the government to provide Special Agric Mechanisation Intervention Fund (SAMIF), which should be domiciled in deposit money banks to provide matching funds to give loans at single digit interest rate for mechanisation.
They also call on the government to create an environment that is conducive for farm machinery manufacturers, to establish assembly plants and also provide special funds to agricultural institutions to undertake research and development for local manufacture of agricultural machinery and implements.
“Government must in the interim partner with at least 2 reputable tractor manufacturers to establish Complete Knocked Down (CKD) assembly plants, but in the long term encourage the design and manufacture of indigenous tractors, implement the use of local tractors and other equipment,” Bitrus Elesha Yakubu, national president, Tractors Owners and Operators Association of Nigeria said in an exclusive interview with Financial Quest.