Mr Agene Thomas, Director of Crops, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Lokoja office, has called from a shift in agricultural sector management to achieve food security in the country.
Thomas said in Abuja on Monday that there would be increase in agricultural productivity through the use of small machines, liquid fertiliser and loans.
According to him, government has spent so much money on importing tractors and fertilisers to serve the need of numerous farmers without creating any positive impact in terms of production outcome.
He said that the use of small agricultural machines that are more efficient and cheaper would reduce the challenges of tractors hiring for farmers.
“Tractors imported into the country most likely are faced with spare parts problems, whereby when government import 100 tractors, you discover just 30 are functioning at the end of the day.
“Or three out of 10 are working perfectly. Just because of lack of spare parts and the attitude of the operators are not encouraging. Tractors issue has been politicised for too long in the country.
“As for fertiliser, we can shift to liquid fertiliser. One litre of liquid fertiliser can cover what two and half bags of fertiliser can do. This is cheaper for farmers. I want government to shift its attention to this area quickly.
‘’Instead of investing money on bags of fertiliser, government can place emphasis on liquid fertiliser and small agro-machines instead of tractors,’’ he said.
The director also called for a paradigm shift in the terms of loans given to farmers by banks in the country.
“You cannot give farmers loan and ask them to pay back within four months. Most of them will prefer one year, that is, after two cropping seasons. If he fails to pay in the first season, he has the second season leverage to level up to be able to pay back.
“What if farmers are faced with flood, pest, how do you expect such farmers to get money and pay back within four months? You discover that banks will begin to withdraw their sources or strength of production from such farmers.
“I think this area should be reviewed to one year; Let loans be relaxed by giving farmers two seasons to payback on one digit interest rate,’’ he said.