The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has said farm mechanization is capable of feeding the nation’s growing population.
Ogbeh disclosed this at the signing of Memorandum of Agreement between the Nigerian Agricultural Mechanization and Equipment Liaising Company (NAMEL) and Mechanization Service Provider (MSPS) during the weekend in Abuja.
He explained that in the next 30 years, the country will emerge third most populous nation globally.
According to him, the population will represent 5 per cent of the world after China and India, thus need to fully embrace mechanization.
His words: “30 years from now, we will be the third most populated nation on earth, next to China and India. That is 5 per cent of the population of the world.
“Only God knows what will happen in this country if we can’t feed ourselves by then but I can tell you that farm mechanization will help feed our growing population.”
The Minister further blamed woes in the sector on bad policies instituted by past administration.
He said: “People have been complaining why Nigeria is unable to produce or feed itself.
“We don’t need a fortune teller to tell us where we went wrong, we destroyed our coins by government policies in the past, there is no where in the world that government will allow his currency to fall every week for 30 years”
Ogbeh added that, “The same people who forced our currency down are complaining of unproductively, lack of growth, lack of progress in agriculture and Nigeria’s incapacity to feed ourselves and Nigerian intellectuals still repeat such things. Nigeria can’t feed herself and they refused to recognize where the trouble started.”
He tasked the media to start asking questions on how opposition parties intend to deal with issues like interest rate and exchange rate stressing that, “nobody can produce anything at an interest rate of 25-30 per cent, so whoever is telling you they can do magic is lying to you.”
He assured that the nation would not experience food shortage due to the recent flood.
“We will not sit here and watch Nigeria starve, we are aware that the cost of food is a bit high due to cost of transportation and other factors but most importantly we want to ensure that the rural areas are richer and happier, they suffer too much.”
Commending TOOAN and TOFAN for the innovation, he said government are bad managers of mechanization service, saying farmers organization have the capacity government don’t have in managing ractors.
Noting that land-clearing activities is more tedious in the South than the North due to soil texture, he urged the farmer’s organizations to ensure tractors are deployed based on specificity, advising NAMEL to work on importing tractors that consume less diesel
The Minister further disclosed plans to put in place Guarantee Minimum Price (GMP) so as to put in place checks and balances on middle men activities ensuring that farmers get value for their investment.
He alleged that middle men are inflating the price of paddy rice, thereby made millers to sell Nigerian rice at a higher price than that of the imported rice.
The Minister further promised to put in place Guarantee Minimum Price to check activities of middlemen who shortchange farmers of their investments.