FG trac­tors for mech­a­ni­sa­tion: Old ones aban­doned

Daily Trust - - AGRICULTURE -

Last year, the federal govern­ment made pro­nounce­ment that the old sys­tem of farm­ing us­ing hoe and cut­lass was out­dated and adding to the bur­den of the farm­ers.

To change that, govern­ment promised to set up equip­ment Hir­ing Cen­tres across the na­tion to pro­vide mech­a­nised ser­vices to farm­ers all over the coun­try.

In the past, govern­ment has pro­vided trac­tors to help farm­ers in the coun­try but some of these trac­tors have been aban­doned or un­der-utilised. The Equip­ment Hir­ing Cen­tres, which the govern­ment promised to set up, is yet to com­mence oper­a­tion, one year af­ter govern­ment made the pro­nounce­ment.

Daily Trust cor­re­spon­dents across the states re­port on the ab­sence of these ma­chines and how mech­a­nised agri­cul­ture may re­main a mi­rage in the coun­try for years to come.

In Kano State, the story of the Federal Govern­ment trac­tori­sa­tion seems to be dif­fer­ent as no of­fi­cial could speak on the is­sue. How­ever, 15 trac­tors were seen lined up at the Federal Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture sit­u­ated along Kano State Hajj camp road.

A source close to the min­istry re­vealed that the trac­tors were be­ing kept there for over six months, adding that even of­fi­cials of the min­istry can­not say what the trac­tors were meant for.

A visit to the yard re­vealed new trac­tors parked in the yard and from all in­di­ca­tions they were there for quite a long pe­riod of time.

Re­ports from Gombe, Adamawa, Kebbi, Niger, and Plateau states in­di­cated that no trac­tors were re­ceived as farm­ers in these states still use their tra­di­tional sys­tem of farm­ing.

From Sokoto, our cor­re­spon­dent re­ports that the State Di­rec­tor, Agri­cul­tural Trans­for­ma­tion Agenda (ATA), Dr. Jib­ril Ensi said: “I learnt that some trac­tors have been given out by the head­quar­ters and just now I was told they still have some but here in Sokoto we have not re­ceived any yet.”

In Ow­erri, the Imo State cap­i­tal, the State Di­rec­tor, Federal Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture and Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment, Mr. Cle­ment Iwunze, said that the trac­tors ac­quired by pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion were given to farm­ers to boost agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion.

He said that the min­istry in­tended to ac­quire trac­tor hir­ing cen­ters across the fed­er­a­tion which would be a pri­vate driven ini­tia­tive.

Un­der the ar­range­ment, any in­di­vid­ual in­ter­ested in the busi­ness can pro­cure the trac­tor and hire out to farm­ers at af­ford­able rates, adding that the depart­ment of mech­a­ni­sa­tion is co­or­di­nat­ing the trac­tor hir­ing cen­tres.

He said that the plan, when it fi­nally comes into ex­is­tence, would of­fer any in­ter­ested per­son an op­por­tu­nity to hire trac­tor for use in his farm, adding that the trac­tors would as­sist the in­di­vid­u­als to pro­duce more crops.

In Kwara State, the Di­rec­tor, Federal Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture and Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment, Mr. Ade­bisi Buhari, told Daily Trust that the govern­ment was not op­er­at­ing the trac­tor hir­ing ser­vice.

“The only thing we are do­ing now is to es­tab­lish Agric Mech­a­ni­sa­tion Cen­tre which an in­di­vid­ual will have their con­tri­bu­tion, equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers will have their con­tri­bu­tion and then you run it as a pri­vate con­cern,” the di­rec­tor said.

At the Federal Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture in Zam­fara State some staff told our re­porter that the of­fice had no trac­tor for the past five years as the very few ones left have since been auc­tioned and were taken away.

The sources fur­ther ex­plained that the trac­tors, whether new or aban­doned, are not be­ing auc­tioned in the state of­fices but at the head­quar­ters in Abuja.

In Sokoto, the State Di­rec­tor, Agri­cul­tural Trans­for­ma­tion Agenda (ATA), Dr. Jib­ril Ensi, said he has no knowl­edge of any trac­tor, but “I learnt that some trac­tors have been given out by the head­quar­ters and just now I was told they still have some but here in Sokoto we have not re­ceived any yet,” he said.

At the min­istry’s head­quar­ters, a Di­rec­tor who spoke with our re­porter on the con­di­tion of anonymity said the few trac­tors aban­doned at Sheda were shrouded in con­tro­versy. He said the trac­tors as sup­plied by the man­u­fac­turer did not meet the en­gi­neer­ing spec­i­fi­ca­tion re­quired by the min­istry.

Al­though he re­fused to men­tion the com­pany which sup­plied that brand of trac­tors, the com­pany is re­luc­tant to re­trieve them. “That is why you see them there. Other­wise, all the trac­tors that met our spec­i­fi­ca­tion, which the com­pany sup­plied, were dis­trib­uted to farm­ers across the eight de­pots in the coun­try.”

He stressed that there are hun­dreds of ap­pli­ca­tions for trac­tors wait­ing in the Min­istry.

The source told our re­porter that 400 trac­tors are ex­pected this month to be sup­plied by eight com­pa­nies un­der the Pub­lic Pri­vate Part­ner­ship ar­range­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to him, un­der the present ar­range­ment, banks will pay 35% of the cost, the min­istry will pay 35%, while the buy­ers will pay 20%. The re­main­ing 10% will be han­dled by the man­u­fac­turer for a spe­cific pe­riod be­fore pay­ment is com­pleted.

Dr. Inuwa Shehu Us­man

By Vin­cent A. Yusuf (Abuja), Ibrahim Musa Giginyu (Kano), Abubakar Auwal(Sokoto), Johnkennedy Uzoma (Ow­erri), Patrick Odey (Uyo), Has­san Ibrahim (Jos), Ab­dul­la­teef Aliyu (Ilorin), Hope Abah (Makurdi), Shehu Umar(Gusau), Adamu Saleh (Gombe) Aliyu M. Ha­m­agam (Minna), Garba Muham­mad (Birnin Kebbi)

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