By Chinyere Anyanwu

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammad Abubakar, has assured farmers of the Federal Government’s commitment to supporting with mechanised equipment to boost agricultural development for a sustainable economy.

Abubakar gave the assurance at the maiden edition of the West Africa Agro-Fair 2022 conference organised by the Afrinex West Africa Limited in collaboration with various stakeholders recently in Abuja.

The theme of the three-day event was “Promoting Sustainable Economic Development through Mechanised Agriculture.” The minister stressed that the event was targeted at promoting mechanisation and funding of agriculture, creating new market and partnership for exhibitors and subsequently promoting agricultural development for a sustainable economic development.

“It also complements President Muhammadu Buhari’s action plan on food security, economic development and job creation. This will avail participants with the opportunity to introduce their products and services, make contacts with leading agricultural manufacturers across the world and platform for new engagements.

“It will drive investment into agricultural sector, provide opportunity for youths and improve national economic growth for families,” he said.

According to him, it is important to note that there is a link between technological growth and food security.

“Modern technological food equipment are meant to provide efficiency in production and processing, while Nigerian farmers have used rudimentary equipment over the years with little productivity.

“The government is working with local and international companies to engage in bi-lateral and multilateral agreements aimed at providing basic agricultural machineries for our farmers.

“About 10,000 tractors and 50,000 processing equipment are expected to be imported and will be distributed to all local governments across the country, which will create hundreds of jobs.

“The government is doing everything possible to increase the number of tractors in the country to be made available especially to smallholder farmers,” he said.

According to him, the agricultural sector is a fundamental driver of the economic diversification and growth. “Agriculture is the only sector with endless resources and we can never move away from agriculture,” he added.

The President, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Dr. Farouk Rabi’u-Mudi, said the laudable initiative will not stop at boosting productivity and the economy but will also hinder post-harvest losses associated with dearth storage equipment.

“This development in the agriculture space will definitely affect everybody because of the high cost of food in the country. Without mechanisation, the issue of food price hike may further soar higher because unlike manual labour, it’s a more subsidised farming method; it’s faster and saves a lot of time spent on labour in the farm.

“Using manual labour for one hectare of land will cost you about N40,000 but with mechanised equipment you do same land tilling at just the cost of N6,000. This way, the cost of production is reduced and the cost of food will be reduced automatically, and also, post-harvest losses will be reduced drastically,” he added.

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Source: news