The Country Manager of Dizengoff Nigeria, Antti Ritvonen, has called on the government to review the import duty on some agricultural equipment especially the greenhouse equipment which is one of the trending agricultural technologies in the world.
Ritvonen said greenhouse agricultural technology can help the country achieve its planned food sustainability and further create jobs for youths and women in Nigeria.
Ritvonen disclosed this at a day farmers’ field day event organised by Dizengoff Nigeria Ltd, member of the Balton CP Group (UK) in collaboration with Phinada Integrated Farms.
According to him “we sincerely hope that the planned duty exemption granted to greenhouse will be fully implemented.
“Currently, the process of importing special greenhouse fertilizers required to achieve the desired yields into the country can be made less cumbersome by ensuring that genuine importers certified by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture are recognised and allowed to bring in the fertilizers by passing through fewer number of regulatory agencies.
“We once again, while appreciating the security issues related to fertilizer importation, humbly request the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development to look into this issue, and use his good office to help in assuaging the current situation.
“Currently tractors that are imported as semi knocked down bear a 35 per cent duty, while fully built and fully knocked down tractors have zero per cent duty. However, duty regulation encourages that most of the tractors that are imported into the country are fully built and this in our opinion will not create employment for Nigeria.
“Previously, most of the tractors we imported to Nigeria, were semi knocked down and this helped in creating jobs for Nigerians at our assembling centre.
“We appeal to the Minister to consider the semi knocked down tractors at no duty, as this will create job opportunity for Nigerians,” he said.
Speaking further on greenhouse technology, Ritvonen said “our greenhouse comes in different sizes and are specifically designed to help farmers work smarter, grow better and harvest bigger.
“A complete greenhouse is a combination of drip irrigation system, quality seeds, knapsack sprayer, agro chemicals & water-soluble fertilizers, training, installation, agro advisory support and insurance.
“In the quest to get its economy back on track and to be among the top 20 developed economies in the world by 2020, government needs to continue to provide an enabling environment by formulating and implementing policies that will make the agriculture sector self-sufficient and private sector-driven.
“That way, lots of employment opportunities will be created for Nigerians by Nigerians and there will in turn be an appreciable reduction of youth involvement in crimes.
“Therefore, to ensure the agricultural sector grows at the rate we all envision, into the self-sufficient and private sector-driven model, government at all levels need to embrace the greenhouse technology as a way of boosting the sector – by encouraging banks to provide loan facilities at single digit interest rates for Nigerians to engage meaningfully in the production of high quality and even exportable vegetables, after meeting domestic needs, thereby boosting the economy of the nation”.
In his remarks, the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri expressed the government determination to make farm technologies available to farmers.
His words: “the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is determined more than ever before to support farmers with modern equipment such as Tractors with implements, Irrigation Pumps, Threshers, Rice Reapers, Agro-Chemicals and General Harvest and Post-Harvest Equipment at subsidized rates.
“I appreciate the efforts of Dizengoff Nigeria in ensuring that Nigerian farmers have access to modern farming technologies and machinery in addition to providing employment opportunities for Nigerian youths.
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Agriculture Policy is hinged on increasing private sector investments in agriculture and this is what is practically being demonstrated here. The Ministry is working to ensure deployment of modern agricultural technologies to improve the quality and quantity of food in Nigeria
“The Ministry runs a private sector driven Agricultural Mechanization Programme which assist Service Provider Operators to extend mechanization operations such as ploughing, harrowing etc at very minimal cost.
“The programme guarantees the Service Provider Operator, after a 20% down payment of the cost of the equipment has been deposited with the Bank of Agriculture (BOA). The equipment is released to the Service Provider Operator and the balance of 80% is repaid within a period of four (4) years.
“Our goal is to provide support and solutions to address issues and constraints faced by farmers and I am optimistic that we will achieve it”.
The Senator representing Federal Capital Territory at the National Assembly, Senator Philip Aduda who is the initiator of the farm project said the greenhouse technology will go along way in boosting the nation’s food production.
“The greenhouse technology is a good initiative, it is the way to go in agriculture because all year round, you find out you have a lot of yield, apart from that, the nature of which is for you to continue to ensure that you water the crops using some other forms of technologies instead of an open field, you have a system whereby you put sprinklers so that you can get maximum yield from the crops in the greenhouse.
“It is capital intensive, I think that gradually, once people begin to understand it, it will go down well”.