FG tractors for mechanisation: Old ones abandoned
Last year, the federal government made pronouncement that the old system of farming using hoe and cutlass was outdated and adding to the burden of the farmers.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.
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)