Propcom Mai-karfi (PM), a programme supported by the UK Government to make rural markets work for the poor in northern Nigeria, says the private sector should get involved in agricultural mechanisation in Nigeria.
Mr Godson Ohuruogu, Senior Programme Manager of PM said this during the DFID/Propcom Mai-karfi organised by Agricultural Mechanisation Investment road show in Abuja.
Ohuruogu said that what the government was doing in agriculture could be complemented by the private sector.
“The private sector needs to wake up to see the opportunities and the possibilities that are inherent in the system.
“Government is trying but it is not enough, it is a far cry. When government releases its budget how many tractors are they able to purchase so that farmers can use.
“Coupled with the problem of maintenance with government involvement in the mechanisation space, I personally do not advocate government should be involved,’’ he said.
He said that the event was organised to increase the size of investment in the mechanisation sector in Nigeria.
He also noted that it had been repeatedly said that the number of tractors in Nigeria could not be compared to number of tractors needed for the country to be called mechanised.
“We have very limited number of tractors yet we have a lot of farmers who yearn for tractors but cannot get it.
“What we are doing here is to bring together all the stakeholders, investors, vendors, Mechanisation Service Providers(MSPs), farmers cooperatives and others to look at the investment opportunities and returns.’’ Ohuruogu said.
According to him, Nigeria has less than 5,000 tractors which are too minimal compared to the return on investment which is huge.
Ogheneovo Ugbebor, Deputy Team Lead of Propcom Mai-Karfi also said that until small holder farmers are moved out of the poverty level to more commercial production, financial institutions will only show little interest.
“That’s why our projects design strategies that bring together the bottom of the pyramid, in ways that commercial entities can deal with them either as service providers or off takers.
“There’s power at the bottom but you need to be able to aggregate the number for efficiency.
“We need to address ways of aggregating small holders in a way that is efficient and effective to do business with them or for them,’’ she said.
She added that government could encourage private service providers to bring their services to the farmers by creating an enabling environment.
“Government should open more lands for agricultural production. I know there’s a policy around giving state government some sort of alleviation if they open new farm lands.
“But on top of opening new farmlands, they need to encourage small holders to use those farmlands,’’ she said.
According to her, one of the ways to encourage small holders was to provide infrastructure such as irrigation facilities, among others.