On Wednesday the Federal Executive Council (FEC), announced the approval of $1.2 billion, which is about N456 billion, for funding agricultural mechanisation in the country, however, more political will is required for the fund to maximise impact, through the procurement of locally and highly efficient machineries, rather than imports.
This more than demonstrates the value the current administration places on the development of agriculture, to effectively drive diversification that would foster jobs and wealth creation. Given the recent impact of the pandemic on oil, which is Nigeria’s major foreign exchange earner, it has become imperative that the tempo of diversification be ramped up; and priming agriculture’s capacity is guaranteed to translate into higher GDP contributions to the economy.
To this end, it is commendable that President Muhammadu Buhari led federal government is giving more attention to the sector, with a view to transforming it into the nation’s economic mainstay.
Announcing the approval of the $1.2billion, minister of Agriculture and Rural Development averred that “The loan is purposely to fund agricultural mechanisation in this country and is expected to cover 632 LGs with 140 processing plants.
“This is going to be a major revolution in the agriculture sector, that we have never seen before in Nigeria,” he said.
Indeed 456billion naira is capable of transforming the agriculture sector in Nigeria, however with emphasis on this particular mechanisation facility, it is critical that for maximum impact, the coordinators of the fund, namely the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) and Ministry of Finance should muster the political will and common sense to look inwards in the procurement of machineries.
This is because Nigeria has attained enough capacity in the production of machineries for food processing, and a level of efficiency that imported machines are lacking in handling our indigenous food crops.
Nigeria has even become an exporter of some of these machineries to other African countries. To buttress the fact that Nigeria has sufficient local capacity to drive its food processing technology and supply, the Natural Resources Institute (NRI) of the University of Greenwich, United Kingdom recently lauded the pioneering effort of Nobex Tech, an indigenous private Nigerian Company in setting the standard for quality and after sales services of cassava drying equipment in Africa, with exports to eight countries in Africa and multiple sales in many states of the country.
Indeed, the efficient utilisation of this fund in local procurement, will go a long way in further developing the value chain and driving the duo of Nigeria’s agricultural and industrial revolutions.
Securing machineries from local manufacturers is not only cheaper and more economical, it also ensures that after sales services can be provided on time when required.
This is the time to source some of the equipment produced from research undertaken by the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO), such as its mobile cassava-processing unit and Machinery and equipment for: Benniseed extraction (5 tonnes a day); among others.
Recently the Projects Development Institute of Nigeria (PRODA), in Enugu State, unveiled its induction furnace project, which had the capacity to produce industrial machines and aircraft spare parts. With the two furnaces, PRODA can produce non-ferrous materials including aluminium and stainless steel vital to the production of food processing machinery, which the institute is also adept at manufacturing.
Bringing all of this capabilities together under a funding umbrella oiled by the $1.2 billion facility will indeed require strong will driven by a strong desire to improve the sector. There can be no better time than now to demonstrate this.