The Federal Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with American agriculture manufacturing companies John Deere and Tata Nigeria to provide tractors to Nigerian farmers at an affordable rate and also to establish a tractor assembly plant in Nigeria.
The agreement also made provision for a 5- to 6-year payment plan for the tractors, which is expected to make the payment system very flexible for farmers.
Speaking on the occasion of the MoU signing, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Abubakar Kyari, said the potential is enormous, but primarily to address the challenges of mechanisation in the country’s agriculture.
He said Nigeria is grossly under-mechanised, with only 50,000 serviceable tractors for the country’s over 70 million hectares of land.
“What we have just witnessed now is a partnership between John Deere and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security to see that Nigerian farmers have access to agricultural equipment at an affordable rate.
“The potentials are enormous; one of them is to address the agricultural challenges that we have in terms of mechanisation. We want a tractor that can cover a minimum of 500 to 800 hectares per year.
“Initially, we started with the assumption that we would require up to 2000 tractors, but I think the demand has shown that it may even increase. So even with 2000 tractors, it means we can add up to at least 1.6 million hectares per year.
“Nigeria is grossly under-mechanised; we have less than 50,000 serviceable, workable tractors today, and in a country with at least 70 million hectares of land, it is grossly inadequate, and I think this is a way to go and to modernise our agriculture”, the Minister said.
Senator Kyari further stated that John Deere will also bring in capacity building, where they will train Nigerian mechanics and artisans to maintain the equipment.
“The original arrangement is for 2000 tractors per year, but what we are saying is that it depends on how much the farmers are willing to take.
“This is purely a partnership for the off-take for the farmers, not the government taking, but what the government is supposed to do is to have an environment that is very conducive for John Deere to sell the tractors to the farmers”, he noted.
He said the role of the ministry is to make sure that the ease of doing business is achieved in terms of creating access to finance for the farmers so that they can purchase the tractor.
The Vice President of John Deere, Jason Braintley, while speaking with journalists after the MoU signing, said the company is excited about the agreement with the Ministry and Tata Nigeria.
He said the agreement is critical for raising yield and food security and also for raising farmers’ income, and they are looking forward to taking the next step.
“We are really excited with the agreement because it signifies that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, John Deere, and Tata Nigeria see several opportunities to take proven practises in Nigeria and scale them up to make mechanisation more available for more farmers.
“John Deere has been active in Nigeria for decades, and we have tractors running all the way from north to south. We have equipment that will thrive in the country’s soil and climatic conditions.
We also recognise that at the individual community level, the choice of implements will be really important, so one of the things we talked about is that we match up the right implement with the right tractor in the right area”, Braintley said.
He said the assembly plant is in planning right now, and Tata Nigeria is going to be taking that forward. Information about the plant is expected in the near future.
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