Okwe Obi, Abuja
Nigerian farmers can now heave a sigh of relief as the Federal Government, yesterday, signed pact with Nigeria Agricultural Mechanisation and Equipment Leasing Limited (NAMEL)/John Deere, for the supply of over ten thousand tractors to boost agriculture.
While signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), in Abuja, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said at least, the burden of tractors’ procurement and management would be taken off the shoulders of government, insisting that the move will improve mechanised farming to give room for food sufficiency and reduce poverty.
He disclosed that the government paid 35 per cent, while the private sector paid the balance.
“We have handed over the tractors to professional managers like NAMEL to rent out and return money, make some profit and give farmers services which ordinarily they wouldn’t have,” he added.
Ogbeh said one the reasons why the government contracted the business was because of the poor maintenance culture of most farmers, assuring Nigerians that with a company like NAMEL, issues of nepotism and thief will not arise because of the sophistication of the company.
“Before now, what we have is a situation where we give tractors to farmers and some sell at higher prices and some end up in the hands of few politicians and traditional rulers,” he added.
He also stated that the tractors would be distributed in the thirty-six states of the federation. “In order to monitor the activities of the tractors, the duty of NAMEL is to supply and maintain the tractors and move for the assembling of tractors in Nigeria.
Responding, NAMEL/John Deere Managing Director, Jason Brantley, said the government will get 10% and the liability would be built in the machine to support training of technicians and drivers.
Brantley disclosed plans of the company to put up a plant in Nigeria considering the patronage because the expiration of the contract.