• Thursday, July 18, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

NAMEL commits aiding farmers’ access to mechanisation

Three innovators get $40,000 grant to improve food production

Nigeria Agriculture Mechanisation and Equipment Leasing Company (NAMEL) has restated its commitment to deepening farmers’ access to mechanisation with the launch of the Rural Agriculture Development Consortium (RAD-C).

Speaking during a ceremony in Abuja on Friday, Ahmed Adekunle, CEO of NAMEL noted that Nigeria’s agriculture was not commensurable with the amount of investment it has received from both the private and public sectors.

According to him, RAD-C aim to create a platform for stakeholders in the agricultural sector to deploy their products and expertise in rural communities with vast agricultural lands to fast tract the commercialisation of Agriculture through a private sector led Public Private Community Out-growers scheme (PPCOS).

“Today the cost of farm inputs has gone up by over 200 percent, including herbicides and fertilisers. We have a country where the cost of a tractor in 2013 was N5.5million, but today has increased to N35million. The price of diesel has also increased by almost 300 percent.

“Our population is growing at a fast-tracking speed and is projected to be 263 million by 2030 and 401 million by 2050 according to development experts, yet our agricultural productivity is growing at less than one percent.

“The questions are, how then do we feed the over 250 million people by 2030? “How do we achieve economic diversification and be part of the global agriculture competitiveness like Brazil, China, India, Thailand, Vietnam etc.

Read also: Flood: Hunger looms as farmers count losses in Edo

“Rural Agricultural Development Consortium (RAD-C) has evolved as a paradigm shift and game changer from what is usual by bringing together experts and leaders, under one unique platform, and active in all agricultural value chain including world-class machinery/equipment suppliers, mechanisation service providers, manufacturers of high quality and standardise inputs, world-class research institutions among others,” he said.

He explained that the target of the initiative was to develop 500,000 hectares of contiguous farmlands across different states, produce 2.5million metric tonnes of premium crops annually, including rice, maize, wheat, and cassava.

Others include the attraction of an estimated 50 billion worth of investment to the rural community as well as fast-track community development, thereby reducing urban migration and poverty index.

According to him, “the RAD-C model is not going to compete with smallholder farmers for the available lands but will develop the unused contiguous arable lands, opening new opportunities for the communities and the farmers.

“And this will pave the way for the deployment of high precision mechanisation, extension services and other form innovations & technologies in the agriculture space while promoting economies of scale.”

In his remark, Martin Fregene, director, agriculture and agro-industry of the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), stressed the need for structural changes in agricultural processes.

According to him, AfDB is focusing on addressing issues of poor access to finance, and infrastructure deficit, especially in rural communities.

“Agriculture in Africa is not competitive. There is a need for fertiliser and other farm inputs to be affordable and available.

“AfDB is working to address the issues of access to finance as well as infrastructure. Roads should be constructed to reduce cost of transportation.”

Representing the minister of agriculture and rural development, John Drai, director of engineering and mechanisation, commended the NAMEL, stating that the initiative will provide the needed support for Nigerian farmers to become globally competitive.

He noted that mechanisation has remained the bedrock of agricultural production, hence it should be encouraged.