• Friday, July 12, 2024
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FG to attract youths in agribusiness through mechanisation agriculture

Audu Ogbeh
Audu Ogbeh

The Federal Government says it has put measures in place to ensure youths are attracted more into agricultural business through mechanised agriculture. This it has done by making accessible agricultural equipment hiring service for youths to enable them embrace advanced agribusiness.

Audu Ogbe, minister of agriculture, made the disclosure in Ilorin, Kwara State, on the occasion of the flag-off of the second phase of Agricultural Equipment Hiring Enterprise (AEHE) of high-powered 110hp to 200hp precision farming tractors and other 295 tractors, various harvest and post-harvest equipment.

According to Ogbe, “The launch of the second phase of Agricultural Equipment Hiring Centres will impact on: 2,000 direct jobs created for the unemployed youths; 100,000 hectares of land mechanised and 500,000 metric tons of food added to national production.

“This administration will endeavour to end unbridled importation of all kinds of food items, which has led to the growing youth unemployment, impoverishing our farmers and neglect of the existing potential in the agricultural sector. With our natural resource assets, we can ensure food self-sufficiency.”

The administration will sustain, deepen and widen the Private Sector-driven Agricultural Mechanisation Framework (PSDAMF) strategies in partnership with local fabricators and manufacturer representatives, the minister said.

He, however, noted that the low level of mechanisation limited the ability of our farmers to expand cultivated areas, perform timely farm operations and achieve economies of scale in increasing food production.

In developed countries for instance, Europe today is over-mechanised, USA is completely mechanised. The numbers of tractors per 1,000 hectares are as follows: Japan has 461; Italy, 211.1; France, 68.5. In India, a small state called Punjab, which is the “Granary of India” (India’s bread-basket), has over 1,000,000 tractors; Egypt 31 tractors/1,000ha and in other African countries, including Nigeria, only 5 percent of farm labour is done using tractor.

Available statistics from Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) show that although over 50 million hectares of arable land are presently not in use, the 40 million hectares in use are poorly developed and not very tractor-able.

The statistics show further that in sub-Saharan Africa, only 1 percent of farm power is provided by mechanical means, less than 10 percent from draught animals and 89 percent from human labour. Nigeria is not an exemption.

The minister further assured that the ministry in order to attract more youths into agribusiness would partner commercial banks, donor agencies and developing partners, and would strive to make the mini AEHE available to youth and women farmers nationwide under the framework of PSDAMF at discounted cost to assist smallholders to mechanise themselves.