Delta Governor, Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Okowa, on Wednesday, in Asaba, inaugurated 20 tractors procured by his administration for agricultural productivity, with a warning that anyone who failed to do the right thing with the equipment would be brought to book.
He stated that the tractors were procured to encourage citizens to go back to farming, and explained that equipment would be available to every farmer in need of them.
According to the governor, 10 of the tractors will go to the tractor agencies of the state government under the Ministry of Agriculture and 10 will be given out to the private sector at subsidized rate.
He, however, directed that those in whose custody the tractors would be, must be readily available to provide the necessary services to other farmers who would be in need of them at an agreed price with the ministry.
“The ministry had proposed that we send all to the private sector but, I was very skeptical about it and I felt that the tractor hiring agencies could easily be reached by some of our people and I hope that that decision would impact us together.
“I wish to appeal and to direct that, it is important that the tractors are given out at appropriate price as agreed and that they are made available to our people.
“The tractor hiring unit must do the right thing; anybody who fails to do the right thing will definitely be brought to book, because the intention of this programme is to ensure that those who want to tractorize their farms are able to get it at a subsidized rate.
According to him, the farmers should be able to make enough gain of their farm produce at the end of the farming year.
Okowa expressed the hope that with the success of the programme, the state government would be able to purchase more tractors in the future, saying “we are encouraging our people to go back to the farm.
“With the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) programme supporting the already existing programmes in the state, I believe that there is a lot to be done in terms of arable crops and cash crops, and I know that Delta State has enough fertile land to truly excel in agriculture.
“I hope that we will continue to do our best to ensure that we are able to feed ourselves and export.
“I must appreciate the Central Bank of Nigeria for the cassava programme that they have started, particularly the five star cassava programme which is going to engage a lot of our people; at the end of it, no fewer than 1,000 farmers have been involved.’’
He added that oil palm programme was also on course and appealed to traditional rulers and presidents-general of communities to make land available to support all agricultural programmes.
The governor explained that the people who would be engaged in the various agricultural schemes would be from the communities, adding that “if we do not provide land for this purpose, we will be the losers at the end of the day’’.
Earlier, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Julius Egbedi, had said that the Delta State-Assisted Mechanization programme provided for farmers in the state, farm machines to facilitate farm land preparation and reduce the task in working the soil for cropping manually.
He commended the governor for supporting different agricultural programmes in the state.
Those who witnessed the event included the Deputy Governor, Mr Burutu Otuaro, Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr Chiedu Ebie and the Head of Service, Mr Reginald Bayoko.