Low mechanisation limits Nigeria’s agric potential

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Low level of agricultural mechanisation on farms across the country has continued to limit the capacity of farmers to expand their cultivation areas, perform timely farming operations and achieve economies of scale in food production.

Stakeholders in the sector stated that for the country to attain high level of food sufficiency and reduce dependency on food imports, it had to improve the level of agricultural mechanisation.

Available statistics show that Nigeria is one of the least mechanised farming countries in the world with the country’s tractor density put at 0.27 hp/ hectare which is far below the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)’s 1.5hp/hectare recommended tractor density.

“Mechanisation is a very critical issue because it will help eradicate poverty of rural farmers,” Sani Dangote, president, Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG) and vice president of Dangote Industries Limited, said in an exclusive interview with BusinessDay.

“If farmers continue to use crude equipment, their poverty can never be eradicated. Farmers need to farm and harvest their produce using mechanisation in order to increase production and profits,” he said.

Dangote stated that the only way youths can find agriculture attractive was through mechanised farming. “With mechanisation, agriculture becomes attractive for the youths and they can take it up as a profession,” Dangote added.

With the continual drift of the young population from the rural to urban centres in search of white-collar jobs and away from the drudgery of manual farm labour, self-sufficiency in food production is becoming a herculean task.

“Currently, more than 70 percent of farm labour is provided by human power; over 20 percent is provided with draft animal power and less than 10 percent by mechanical power,” Elesa Yakubu, national president, Tractor Owners and Operators Association of Nigeria (TOOAN), told BusinessDay.

In Nigeria, a significantly higher proportion …