By Chinyere Anyanwu
The Federal Government has launched a tractor hiring scheme in Kaduna as part of efforts to boost agricultural practices in the country.
The initiative was facilitated by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in collaboration with the Bank of Agriculture (BoA) and other relevant partners.
According to a statement signed by the Chief Information Officer in the ministry, Ezeaja Ikemefuna, the initiative would help encourage mechanised farming, boost food and nutrition security and create more job opportunities for Nigerian youths.
Speaking during the official flag-off and distribution of tractors to farmers at the BoA office in Kaduna State, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammad Abubakar, said that the ministry, in collaboration with BoA and manufacturing representatives, has agreed to support the project by making tractors with implements available to farmers at a concessionary deferred payment terms.
He noted that Nigerian farmers were expected to make a 40 per cent down payment while the balance of 60 per cent would be spread over a period of three years.
He said the ministry would acquire 10,000 units of tractors with implements and 50,000 units of equipment to kick-start the programme.
According to him, the vital role of agriculture in the Nigerian economy makes it necessary for the sector to be re-invigorated through tractor acquisition in order to achieve food and nutrition security.
He explained that this would lead to improved quantity and quality of food per person, reduce the drudgery of farmers in Nigeria as well as increase productivity in the agricultural sector.
He added that Nigeria and Brazil entered into a bilateral agreement under the More Food International Programme (MFIP) of Brazil, which culminated in in-kind loan of $1.2 billion.
Explaining further, Abubakar noted that the agriculture sector remains among the key sectors driving the economy in Nigeria and it contributed 23.78 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Ernest Umakhihe, represented by the director of the Federal Department of Agriculture, Abubakar Abdullahi, noted that the programme would move agriculture from subsistence to commercial business venture, increase the economy of most farmers, drive development in the agrarian communities and encourage youth participation and engagement, among others.