From Okwe Obi, Abuja

The Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Abubakar Kyari, yesterday, disclosed that the country would need 70,000 tractors to achieve food security. 

He stated this in Abuja during a technical meeting with John Deere Group on Mechanisation.

Kyari explained that the government had commenced the process of acquiring  10, 000 tractors over the next five years, adding that service centres would be created in each of the local government to fast-track the utilisation process. 

“If we have about 25 million hectares of arable land as a country, if you take two tractors per hectare that is about 70,000.

“Some places you do not need such tractorization maybe you need power tillers. 

“We are looking at those areas we can incentivise not only on tractorisation but power tillers. By and large, let us target something like 70,000 for the country.

“We should be able to achieve considerable level of tractorisation. And I keep saying that what we have is 10,000 for the next 5 years. 

“We are challenged as a nation that the land is shrinking. We need to increase yield and part of tractorisation which is adequate for production of crops. 

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“Like I said, it is really a subjective number. It depends on what you look at. By and large, we should be able to achieve a minimum of 70,000,” he said. 

According to him, the tractors would be given out to farmers at the lowest possible price.

Also, he reiterated that “apart from the John Deere programmes, we have other programmes that will come into being as the green imperative programme that is from the Brazilian government where we are going to set 774 service centres, in each local government of the federation to provide services not only for smallholder farmers to purchase but to carry out tractorization services at an affordable cost. 

“We are also going to collaborate with large scale farmers. Mind you, they also contribute to food security in the country. It is also important that we engage them.”

“I would also like to reiterate the commitment of President Tinubu Ahmed Tinubu to making this arrangement to work. 

“As I am talking to you, he is waiting for this meeting to see how far you have gone. The only concern that I have is that there seems to be a slow pace in some of the concepts that we have lined out.

“We are in the Third month in 2024 and we have assured Nigerians that we will have 2,000 tractors. If we were in the forth month, we should have 500 by now on the ground,” the Minister said. 

Managing Director, John Deere Group, Stephan Gouws said: “We stand for reliability at a lowest cost. 

“The lowest cost is absolutely affordable. What we want to do is to increase the productivity of the farmers. It can be the smallholder farmers or the large scale farmers. All of this is to increase profitability.”