Mechanized Agriculture: Nigeria Falls Below Expectations as it Provides 50 tractors per 1000 square kilometres.
The drive by the Federal Government for Nigeria to attain food sufficiency may still be a mirage after all unless drastic measures are taken to overturn the current trends. This is because Nigeria is still far from the global standard in terms of the number of tractors per land area that farmers own.
This revelation was made by Mr. Friday Ali of the Greenhouse Unit of the Agriculture Division of Dizengoff Group Nigeria while speaking on the Monthly Forum of the Nigerian Association of Agricultural Journalists (NAAJ) in partnership with Nigerian Breweries Plc in Lagos .
Ali noted that countries like the United States of America (USA) and India were far ahead of Nigeria adding that while the USA was having a record of 250 tractors per one thousand square kilometres, Nigeria was having less than 50 tractors per one thousand square kilometres which he said was a far cry from the Africa standard.
According to him,”With what we are projecting there (on projector), you will discover that Nigeria is still very far from the global standard in terms of the number of tractors per land area that farmers own. We can see that while countries like USA are having a record of 250 tractors per one thousand square kilometres, Nigeria is still far below 50 tractors per one thousand square kilometres. That is a wide gap, even India is ahead of us. We are even below the Africa standard”.
While admitting that Nigeria still have a long way to go, Mr. Ali however reminded the journalists that the onus lie on them to educate the farmers through their reportage and create awareness on what mechanization could do for the nation’s agricultural sector. He said:
“I don’t need to start lecturing us today on the use of tractors and implements on our farms in terms of farm power, in terms of haulage, tillage, planting, spraying , a lot of things that tractors and implements can do for our farmers.
“So, if we want to take our place rightly in Africa, we must not rest on our oars, we must be on our toes to create this awareness with States and Federal Governments using whatever available means that there is through cooperatives, organizing farmers in clusters. We know it may be difficult for an average farmer to own the tractor and actually, if you must get the tractor, there must be minimum hectare for you to use those tractors efficiently so that they don’t lie fallow.
“So, we are far below global standard and in Dizengoff, with what we are doing before now, we will still continue to play our role by making quality tractors, good quality implements and good after sale services and with the spare parts available at the right time for our farmers to be helped in mechanizing their operations on the farm”, he added.
Ali further pointed out that if Nigeria must move forward in the agricultural sector, her people must move away from hoe and cutlass agriculture to mechanized agriculture saying that for Nigerian farmers to be fully mechanized, they need to have access to good tractors that would deliver as well as good implements that would deliver.
He continued,”Talking about agriculture, it is not all about tilling the land, processing, we can also have our crop protection mechanized. Of what use is it to farmers who laboured, tilled the land and he doesn’t have the right range of equipment to use in crop protection? Over the years, as I mentioned, we have been involved in the sector making the right equipment for farmers for crop protection.
“Talking about tractors and implements, over a period of three, four, five years, we have been able to sell well over 300 units of tractors per annum and I can tell you that over 90% of these tractors from our records are still functional and delivering service to the farmers”.