BOA, ministry seal N3.5b pact for tractor procurement

By The Citizen

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has said that the era when farmers in Nigeria toy endlessly with babies strap on their backs under the sun and rain using toes and knives for cultivation of their farmlands are fast coming to an end.

He made the declaration at the weekend in Abuja, during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between his ministry and the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) for the procurement of 400 tractors for farmers under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.

Under the deal worth N3.5 billion, tractors are to be supplied to some 60 centres across the country, where farmers who have been registered and identified can hire from a pool for the cultivation of farmlands aimed at reducing the stress associated with manual farming methods so as to attract the youth back agriculture and upscale food production in the country.

The new strategy replaces the former system, which the minister said was fraught with corruption as tractors procured were refurbished and always collapse after few usage.

Adeshina said: 'The MoU will form the basis for establishing Agricultural Equipment Hiring Enterprises to be equipped with 400 units of tractors that all help to put up an additional 152,000 hectares of land under cultivation, expected to add 760,000 tons of food to our national output per annum. The financing will be done through public private Partnership  (PPP) as BOA has undertaken to finance the interested Service provider operators

'The Ministry will provide adequate fund towards facilitating the financing of the enterprise, in partnership with the BOA and the private sector. In the refinancing window for the service providers operators, the Government is providing 35 per cent of the loans; BOA, 35 per cent; tractors vendors. 10 per cent; Service providers operators 20 per cent as equity for the take-off of the scheme 's hiring centres.'

Also at the occasion, the Minister of State, Federal Capital Territory, Mrs. Akinjide, was excited over the scheme and announced FCT's contribution of 10 per cent to the deal to defray the cost of hiring to the farmers and encourage their patronage of the machineries.

On how farmers are to access the machineries, the Minister explained that his Ministry has already undertaken a registration of farmers in the country with 14 million of them already captured between last year and now while another estimated four million are to be captured next year and would be contacted via phone and issued with coupons with which they would go to the Centres and get a tractors as has been the case with the fertilizer and seed distribution under the Growth Enhancement Scheme.

Commenting on the partnership, the Managing Director of BOA, Dr. Mohammed Santuraki said the partnership waste outcome of the rejuvenated BOA which capital base has been raised to N15 billion and declared that the bank was now poised to play its role of providing access to agro allied activities financing, particularly in such a way as to diversify labour to other areas that could facilitate the country's earnings and growth.

He said  the Bank was also finalizing plans for another sum of N2 billion financing the youth and women  in agriculture  programme aimed at attracting them back to agriculture.