Mechanised farming is a huge challenge –farmers
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.