Farm Mechanisation Trend In Nigeria: Indigenous – Quasi Efforts And Challenges (II)

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Seed Cum Fertilizer Broadcaster was indigenously fabricated by the engineers in MAGLANDS Creations for use as seeds broadcaster and fertilizer applicator. These operations are seemingly simple to do manually but extremely difficult to achieve uniform distribution of the fertilizer and seeds. 

The resultant effects; neither the plant population is optimum nor the plant growth is uniform for the crops planted on the same day and on the same farm land. Obtaining lower yield of crops is often the consequence of hand or manual broadcasting of seeds and fertilizer.
 The indigenous broadcaster is designed to be mounted across the shoulder of an operator by means of a strap. A hand-crank rotates the spreading disc. Seeds or fertilizer are placed in the hopper. The size of the delivery aperture provided in the bottom of the hopper is adjusted to apply the recommended quantity of the seeds or fertilizer per unit area. As the hand crank is rotated and the person moves forward; the material is spread uniformly over a five to six metre radius.
 This machine is suitable for rice, wheat and grass/hay productions. The performance features of the machine are application rate ranged from 40kg/hr to 62.4kg/hr, carrying capacity from 6.5kg to 10kg, field capacity from 0.54 to 0.72ha/hr and Labour requirements to 1.38 to 1.84man-hr/ha.
Serrated Weeding hoe is another indigenous innovation to assist farmers. Weed control is an indispensable operation in the crop production system otherwise the weeds will share the soil nutrients with your crops.  Weeds are serious menace to crops as they compete with the plants for water and light in addition to the nutrients, harbour insects, pests, diseases and reduce the quality and yield of the crop. One of the most widely and traditionally used methods of weed eradication in standing crops is the use of hoes.
 The main advantage of using the serrated Weeding Hoe is the elimination of back-ache usually encountered with the local hoe. This is because of its short-handle which causes the farmer to bend in a bent posture. Besides, less effort is required to use the improved hoe due to superior grade of steel material used for the blade which aids in maintaining a sharp cutting edge of the blade. Depending upon the soil, crop and weed conditions, it was found that a person could weed a piece of farm land area from 0.02 to 0.04 ha/hr.
 Thus, the labour requirements could vary from 22 to 40 man hrs/ha, which means that a person can weed twice or trice the same area he could do with the traditional hoe and with less drudgery.
Fabrication of Wheel hoe is another feat targeted at small scale farmers. The wheel hoe is widely used to effectively control weeds. The wheel hoe is essentially an inter-row cultivator. It is used by pushing and pulling action. The stroke length is adjusted by the operator depending upon his arm length and ease of working. The depth of penetration is adjusted by raising or lowering the wheel with the help of the holes provided on the frame. The work output for an average person ranges from 0.03 to 0.05ha/hr. It is an improvement over the serrated weeding hoe.
Fabrication of agricultural processing machineries were among the indigenous efforts to address post harvest losses and improve the quality of agricultural produce. Rice Paddy Parboiler is one of such processing equipment.
 Traditional method of rice parboiling has led to poor quality and makes consumers to have preference for the imported rice. The Parboiler is designed to soak the paddy in water, heat and steam it over a specified period of time. This leads to partial boiling of the grains and galvanising of the starch in the rice. The process keeps the quality of cooked parboiled rice better as it can be kept for longer duration without decomposition or moulding.
 The Parboiler can parboil 70kg of paddy in about four hoursww. This operation can be repeated two to three times a day which means a paddy of 140 to 210 kg can be parboiled each day. A bigger parboiler with higher capacity up to two Tons of paddy rice was also developed. The parboiler can meet the needs of small scale rice processor with relatively small investment.
MAGLANDS Creations is not alone in this race of promoting indigenous and quasi – indigenous technologies for transforming our traditional farming practices to modern and efficient ones. Recently, Ahmadu Bello University Consultancy Company Nig Limited (ABUCONS) has made a giant step towards this direction. ABUCONS is the business outfit of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria.
 The aim of ABUCONS is to provide technical, professional and other expert services to all tiers of government and private sectors. This is done through the involvement of academic staff who undertake research projects of immediate relevance to the country, thus leading to mutually beneficial relationship between teaching, research and practice. The firm depends mainly on the widespread talents available at the university to execute consultancy projects. This means that ABUCONS has a pool of intellectual manpower with more than 2,000 academic eggheads in over 100 academic programmes of the university.
In a dramatic move to provide a lasting solution to the low level of agricultural mechanisation in the country, ABUCONS has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Qicheng Engineering and Machinery Company Ltd, Hong Kong China for a joint venture. The joint venture is aimed at manufacturing, importation and assembly of small scale, affordable and quality agricultural machineries, implements and equipment.
 The venture is ensuring that the researchers and scientists of the two companies share their expertise and experience with researchers and academics of Ahmadu Bello University and the nation in general.  The venture is likely to facilitate and promote technology transfer, expertise in manufacturing, fabrication, multi-purpose engineering machinery, tools and spare parts between the two countries (China and Nigeria). Already, some of the hanging and dangling fruits of this venture are being plugged.
Samples of the joint venture’s products are hand – held rice reaper, small scale rice milling machine, multi – crops thresher, small scale combined rice de-stoning and milling machine, groundnut harvester, planting/transplanting machines, and many others. These machines are mainly for small scale farmers, targeted at Nigerian peasant farmers across the five ecological regions of the country. 
As stated in the MoU, these products have to be of high quality, affordable, available spare parts and trained manpower for repairs and maintenance. This is certainly a good news for our small scale farmers who have been toiling on their farms over the years with insignificant rewards for their labour.
MAGLANDS Creations and ABUCONS are not the only private and governmental organisations working tirelessly to promote indigenous improved farming tools and machineries. National Centre for Agricultural Mechanisation (NCAM) Ilorin, many engineering faculties/schools in our tertiary institutions of learning and multiple research centres across the nation have pockets of success stories on the development and testing of farm machineries. Despite these efforts, however, there are few insignificant impacts on our agricultural mechanisation due to some cwhallenges.
The first challenge to farm mechanisation in Nigeria is lack of coherent and consistent government policy on agricultural mechanisation.
 To the best of my knowledge, there is no separate national policy on Agricultural Mechanisation, however under Agricultural policy, there is a narrow outline on how government intends to promote Agricultural Mechanisation. This must squarely be addressed through involvement of relevant stakeholders especially, Nigerian Institution of Agricultural Engineers (NIAE), Nigerian Agricultural Society (NAS) and Association of Practicing farmers of Nigeria (APFAN) among others.
Another challenge is inadequate funding for research and development, research funds in the annual Federal government budgets are placed under capital projects, yet, the capital projects are hardly released; in the last five years, the releases were at best 50 percent of the approved budget and were never timely. In agricultural research work, “time” is an important variable under investigation and when untimely fund release makes a researcher slow down, the research result will certainly be affected. The next challenge is preference for imported goods by our elites who are mostly responsible for our massive importations of all goods and services into the country. Government has to patronise made in Nigeria goods and its policy to promote these practices.
These are few of the challenges militating against the successful promotion of the indigenous farm mechanisation in the country. The earlier the government leads in addressing them, the better for our country and we may begin to see light when government shows commitment. The road to food security for a nation has never been a smooth one.
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