ADVERTORIAL: Mechanization as a path to increased agricultural productivity in Nigeria

“There are less than 30,000 tractors in Nigeria and we should at least as at today have a million… Increased mechanization is even more important now that we are trying to encourage the youth to embrace agriculture.” – Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Chief Audu OgbeCBN

Agricultural mechanization has been defined variously as “the process of development and application of machines in the farming process” or rather “the introduction of tools, implements, machines, equipment and technology in the cultivation of farm lands and processing of food.”

As such, mechanization is the perfect answer for how to achieve enhanced productivity in the agricultural sector, and subsequently achieving self-sufficiency and food security in Nigeria; thus as the population of Nigeria continue to grow, mechanization across the various stages of agricultural production is the only solution to our food insecurity!

It is obvious that our failure to mechanize farming practices and instead relying on crude farming techniques is responsible for the subsistence nature of agricultural and farming activities in Nigeria. Since agriculture provides employment to more than 70% of Nigerians, we must do away with crude farming tools like hoe, cutlasses, and diggers; and instead replace with them modern and state-of-the-art farming equipment.

Despite our 170 million population of mostly young people, we cannot for a  long time feed ourselves;  by modernizing and mechanizing our agriculture we will not only be able to feed ourselves and achieve food security rather we will also be exporting surpluses  and earning foreign exchange, improving our economy in the process.

It is sickening to hear that despite their ability to feed their nation and even export food to other countries of the world, famers in the United States of America constitute just an insignificant 3% of the entire population of the country; one wonders why a country where for generations 70% of the population is famers can still not feed itself. What an irony!

The fact is that whereas agriculture in Nigeria is essentially subsistence in nature, in the United States it is essentially commercial; and whereas up to %80 of agricultural production is mechanized in the United States; only a paltry 2% of agricultural production in Nigeria is mechanized.

Amongst others, efforts to get agriculture mechanized in Nigeria is being threatened by our system of land tenure which encourages fragmentation of agricultural lands into smaller and smaller plots; poverty which means famers cant access credit facilities; and  poor state of basic infrastructural facilities like electricity, road networks, and food processing facilities. Another challenge has to do with ignorance on the part of famers which hinders their ability to understand how to access credit facilities and manage agricultural loans.

For Nigeria to achieve self-sufficiency in food production and even have surplus for export, we must learn from fellow developing countries like India which beginning from the early 1960s was able to overcome its poor agricultural productivity by producing high-yielding varieties of grains leading to what is today known as the Indian Green Revolution. Other countries of the world who have successfully revolutionized agricultural practices are Japan, Brazil and Philippines.

Compiled by Moving Image Limited

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