Farmers laud FG’s initiative on tractors, seek even distribution

0
38

 

The All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) and Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Lagos State Chapter, have lauded the Federal Government’s initiative to improve mechanized farming in the country.

The farmers spoke is separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Lagos.

NAN reports that the Federal Government on Feb. 15 said it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with an American firm, John Deere, to supply Nigeria with around 2,000 tractors yearly in the next five years.

Sen. Abubakar Kyari, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security said the initiative was geared toward solving the problem of land preparation and mechanized farming across the country.

The minister noted that the disparity between total arable land and those available for cultivation was partly due to the unavailability of tractors.

Dr Femi Oke, AFAN’s Chairman, said the initiative was a welcome development, adding that it was long overdue.

He said access to tractors and other mechanised inputs would encourage farmers to expand their farms as well as ease farming activities.

He urged government to increase the number of tractors in the long run to accommodate more farmers.

“It is a welcome development; we appreciate it and hope it will be increased as time goes on.

“We are happy that they have started something, though the number is not enough, if you look at the number of farmers we have in the country you will realise that we need more of such initiatives.

“It is a very good initiative and well accepted by we farmers.

“We hope there will not be any issue going by President Bola Tinubu’s directives to engage all farmers through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture,” he said.

Oke urged the Federal ministry of agriculture and food security to work directly with AFAN on the implementation and distribution of the inputs.

He said the tractors would be very beneficial to arable crop farmers and they should be prioritized.

“What we want is that they should engage AFAN which is the umbrella body of all farmers in the country on the distribution and implementation.

“Members of All Farmers Association are in all the states, and they know their farmers and they are the umbrella body of all the associations in agriculture.

“Like now, I have just received a letter to serve in the state and at the federal level; definitely, we know each of our farmers in arable crops and livestock.

“You cannot give inputs meant for arable crops to livestock farmers. We know each and every commodity has its own president or chairman.

“The implementation should be coordinated by the ministry of agriculture and leadership of All Farmers Association,” he said.

Also, Mr. Raphael Hunsa, RIFAN’s chairman in Lagos, urged the government to distribute the machinery evenly to registered and practicing farmers.

Hunsa noted that smallholder farmers produced majority of the food consumed in the nation through traditional farming, using cutlass and hoe, adding that tractors would improve their activities.

“We don’t want this project to go the way other projects have gone.

“Government must ensure that the real farmers benefit from the policy and the only way is to work directly with various farmers’ associations.

“Most times, it is the political farmers that benefit the most; the inputs are mostly diverted by people in charge of them.

“It is the smallholder farmers that produce food for the nation, we use our hands, we work under rain and sun, day and night to ensure that we produce food. We, the smallholder farmers should be given priority.

“If government does not work with farmers, the situation will not improve and the country will face a lot of hardship.

“We have said it time without number that mechanization is the way to go; without modern tools, farmers cannot produce food in commercial quantity“, he said.

Hunsa urged the government to extend the project beyond tractors, adding that majority of the farm implements were in limited supply.

He urged the government to partner with leaders of various commodity associations to ensure even and transparent distribution.

“My advice to the government is to work directly with registered farmer’s associations and their leaders so that when it is time to implement and distribute the machineries, government will work with the known associations.

“Government officials cannot sit in their offices and decide for all the farmers, they must come to the field and work with registered farmers.

“If government wants sufficient food in the country, it must fund and improve mechanization.