Mech­a­nised farm­ing is a huge chal­lenge –farm­ers

Daily Trust - - AGRICULTURE - By Vin­cent A. Yusuf ,who was in Zaria

One of the ma­jor prob­lems that con­front small holder farm­ers in Nige­ria to­day is lack of ac­cess to mod­ern agro al­lied equip­ment and global best sys­tem of farm­ing.

Over 75% of the Nige­ria’s 177 mil­lion peo­ple are said to be small­holder farm own­ers who do not have ac­cess to mod­ern farm ma­chines and im­proved tech­nolo­gies.

The Fed­eral Min­istryA­gri­cul­ture and Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment has es­ti­mated Nige­ria needs about 7,000 trac­tors to meet the de­mand of trans­form­ing the na­tion’s agri­cul­ture from the tra­di­tional sys­tem seen as pun­ish­ment to a mod­ern sys­tem pow­ered by ma­chines.

To this end, the fed­eral min­istry of agri­cul­ture through public-pri­vate part­ner­ship (ppp) es­tab­lished what they called Agri­cul­tural Equip­ment Hir­ing Cen­tres (AEHC). Ac­cord­ing to them, the scheme will bring small­holder farm­ers closer to af­ford­able mech­a­nized agri­cul­tural ser­vices.

Over 80 of such cen­tres were ear­marked as pi­lot pro­ject across the coun­try but even many small­holder farm­ers in these ar­eas still can­not af­ford the ser­vices of these cen­tres.

In Zaria, it is a com­mon sight to see farm­ers us­ing an­i­mal trac­tion pri­mar­ily for plough­ing and thresh­ing. These an­i­mals pro­vide the energy to power farm oper­a­tions since cheaper ac­cess to mod­ern agro ma­chines eludes them.

Al­haji Ba­ture Ku­dan is a farmer in Zaria. With 11 hectares of land along Zaria-Kano high way, he cul­ti­vated maize, soya beans, pep­per and other crops. The maize and soya beans pro­vide the raw ma­te­ri­als for the over 3,000 birds in his poul­try farm be­side it.

He be­lieves that achiev­ing mech­a­niza­tion re­mains a huge chal­lenge for the small scale farm­ers in the area, adding that many farm­ers like him found an­i­mal trac­tion cheaper and af­ford­able.

Most of the farm­ers who spoke with Daily Trust stressed that get­ting trac­tors to plough your farm will cost you much higher than us­ing an­i­mal trac­tion.

Mal­lam Ah­madu Ti­jani is a small­holder farmer with two hectares lo­cated along Kaduna-Zaria Ex­press Way. He told the Daily Trust that most of the farm­ers like him can­not af­ford the ser­vices of mod­ern equip­ment ,adding the op­er­a­tors in most cases are not will­ing to pro­vide ser­vices for peo­ple with small hectares.

“Those who get their at­ten­tion are usu­ally big farm­ers or peo­ple who can give more than N15, 000. But with even less than N3, ooo, some­times you can get an­i­mal own­ers to plough your farm,” he said.

Ti­jani’s view is shared by Nasiru Bello who has a farm close to him. Nasiru said that gov­ern­ment must de­sign pro­grammes that will ac­com­mo­date peas­ant farm­ers for at least four years and must go be­yond prom­ises.

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