By Lawrence Audu
The honourable minister of agriculture and rural development Chief Audu Ogbeh has restated government’s commitment to ensuring food security for Nigerians through the full mechanisation of the agricultural sector and land development.
Chief Ogbeh stated this Thursday in Abuja at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Nigerian Agricultural Mechanisation and Equipment Leasing Company (NAMEL) and Mantrac Nigeria Limited to launch an Integrated Nationwide Agricultural Land Development Scheme (INALDS)
Ogbeh who was represented by the Director, Honourable Minister’s Office, said the MoU is a significant step in government’s endeavour to accelerate and deepen the pace of agricultural mechanisation in Nigeria.
“The need is compelling given our population and the imperative of achieving national food sufficiency and security as quickly as possible. The importance of generating additional streams of income through agro exports for mitigating the effect of the volatility of oil prices on the national economy cannot be over emphasised. We must quickly embrace technological innovations by enhancing agricultural production and productivity along the value chains.
“This is why NAMEL was incorporated recently to champion agricultural mechanisation by working with relevant stakeholders to achieve positive effect to the realisations of our goals.”
Chief Ogbeh assured of the support of the Federal Government of Nigeria in the implementation of the project.
In his remarks, Chief Executive Officer of NAMEL, Dr Ahmed Adekunle said, NAMEL is into a partnership with the federal government to deploy 10,000 units of tractors nationwide on behalf of Nigerian farmers having realised that with financial collaboration, farmers can access equipment at 20% and after a while, they can own them permanently.
“What we are doing today is against what is to come in the next 3-4 years and what we are implementing today, is a strategic plan laid about 7 years ago. We decided to open more lands so that we can effectively manage the cash flow that will come as a result of the deployment of tractors in the sector.
“This is why we decided to go into partnership with Mantrac. Mantrac on their own have also been working on a sustainable partnership with the federal government and the Nigerian people by way of bringing in equipment at a more affordable rate. The MoU we are signing today is a product of consultation for over one year to develop.
“We are working with Mantrac to open up about 500,000 hectares of farmland nationwide to provide market for our mechanisation programme. By market I mean developing the value activities along the chain which includes harvesting, standardisation packaging etc.”
Also speaking, Managing Director of Mantrac, Ahmed Ragab represented by the General Manager Sales, Mohammed Ibrahim said, their aim is to support the Nigerian citizens and government to achieve the food sufficiency they have been working for.
“We want to empower Nigerian farmers to get more crops and as we all know; agriculture is the cornerstone of many other industries, what we are doing today, will write history for years to come with a positive outcome on agriculture and many other industries and mainly on the Nigerian citizens in terms of more jobs, more food and more industrial activities.
INALDS is a private sector initiative designed to open up 500,000 hectares of arable land using the appropriate agricultural land development technology with payment structured on a flexible differed system over a period of 1-3 years. The INALD specific target is to open up 13,000 hectares of land each state of the federation in collaboration with both the states and local governments.