The Federal Government has affirmed that farmers across the country will benefit from the leasing of agricultural equipment intended to aid farming operations and boost their agricultural output.
Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, stated this at the unveiling of the SMART Model Farm in Abuja, stating that the initiative will be made possible through a tripartite arrangement between the Federal government through Nigerian Agricultural Mechanization and Equipment Leasing Company (NAMEL) and John Deere.
He said that the farmers will be able to benefit from the use of Tractors through the Tractor Owners Association of Nigeria (TOAN) and the Hiring Facility of Nigeria (TOFAN), adding that all certified seeds will be distributed to every Local Government Area through the collaboration of TOAN and TOFAN.
Speaking further, Ogbeh stated that the initiative was undertaken to make farming attractive and less burdensome to the youthful segment of the society, saying “the old have to give way to the youths, as they need to farm to feed themselves”.
He added that the SMART Model proposed by the John Deere group is to bring solutions to smallholder farmers, in the various agricultural chains, provision of mechanisation for higher yields, have access to finance with reduced interest rates, ensuring reliability for lower costs and the provision of technology and education to smallholder farmers.
The Minister appreciated John Deere International and the team of technical experts from the Ministry for their initiative at taking agricultural mechanisation to Nigerian farmers, saying that the acquisition of tractors would go a long way in increasing productivity and reduce the risk of manual farming, thereby making farming attractive to Nigerian youth.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government also plans to establish Farm Management Training Centers across the geopolitical zones of the country to increase productivity.
He added that John Deere Tractor Manufacturers would be engaged to offer capacity building to interested persons to realise optimum yields and increased productivity in their farm operations.
Earlier, Dr. Ahmed Adekunle, Special Assistant to the Minister on Mechanisation, noted that the Partnership between the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) with John Deere through the NAMEL is an initiative of the Minister that has come to reality to deliver on the farm mechanisation programme of the Federal Government, while explaining that the initiative is aimed at increasing production per hectare and attracting financing provided by John Deere to the Ministry.
Jason Brantley, Managing Director of John, Deere Tractors Manufacturing Company, in his opening remarks, said that the tractors have a very strong horsepower and were designed to solve the problem encountered by a farmer in Nigeria and increase the level of productivity in the nation’s agriculture sector leading to food security in Sub-Saharan Africa.
He noted that the John Deere SMART model being introduced into the country is an ecosystem approach that focuses on improving yields of the smallholder farmers.
Dr. Mohammed Babandi ,the Director Federal Department of Agriculture in the Ministry, who was represented by the Director Agricultural Mechanisation, Engr. Owolabi Olusegun disclosed that the Minister has been working tirelessly in search of partners that will supply tractors to Nigerian farmers and this prompted the Department to explore possible ways in both software and hardware in proffering solutions to the myriad of problems facing Nigeria’s agriculture sector.
Danladi Garba ,the Chairman Association of Tractor Owners and Hiring Facility of Nigeria,(TOFAN) disclosed that his association has been assisting Nigerian farmers across the six geopolitical zones in cultivating and harvesting with the few tractors at their disposal, saying that his association is ready to partner on this new initiative.