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Govt to privatise distribution, procurement of farm machinery

By The Citizen
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Federal Government has announced plans to privatise the commercialising of farm mechanisation in the country.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina who unveiled the plans at the commissioning of some newly completed farm equipment at the National Centre for Agricultural Mechanisation (NCAM) in Ilorin, Kwara State, said that government had exited from the procurement and distribution of farm implement for the private sector  to take over.

Adesina lamented that government had sunk several billions of naira over the past years in the purchase of tractors and other mechanised equipment, but corruption and lack of maintenance culture had made these efforts unsuccessful.

He added: 'Government direct procurement and distribution of tractors was riddled with corruption, as old refurbished tractors were sold to government as new tractors. That is why this government ended government procurement and distribution of tractors.'

He disclosed that a private sector-driven equipment-hiring scheme had been introduced tailored at improving the access of farmers to affordable mechanised services.

Adesina noted that the mechanisation service delivery will be all inclusive, covering land development (trees removal, stump removal and de-stoning) land preparation, tillage operation, harvesting, transportation, construction of rural roads, tractor rehabilitation, threshing, processing, value additionamong others.

The agricultural minister said that to ensure that farmers had access to farm mechanisation services in the 2013 season, the federal ministry would establish 60 private sector-driven Agricultural Equipment Hiring Enterprises (AEHE) in priority sites across the country.

He noted that the Agricultural Equipment Hiring Enterprises will be equipped with 300 units of tractors and 1590 planting, harvest and post harvest agricultural equipment to provide immediate mechanisation service support to farmers in the areas.

The financing of the agricultural equipment hiring centers will be done through public-private partnerships, as the ministry would provide N3.5 billion towards facilitating financing of these centres, in partnership with the Bank of Agriculture and the private sector, adding that government would provide 35 per cent of the loans, Bank of Agriculture would provide 35 per cent, while private sector operators will provide 30 per cent as equity contributions.

Adesina stated that the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) would be expanded beyond seeds and fertilisers, to provide mechanisation subsidy to assist Nigerian farmers to access mechanisation services from the Agricultural Equipment Hiring Enterprises.