Gyang Bere, Jos
President Muhammadu Buhari says his administration has cut rice imports by about 90 percent in order to spur domestic production of the commodity.
He explained that the money saved from reduced imports would be invested in the agricultural sector to create jobs for Nigerian youths and to hasten the country’s economic recovery.
Buhari disclosed this on Friday in Jos while commissioning Plateau State Tractor Ownership Scheme at new Government House, Rayfield Jos.
“My administration has cut down the importation of rice up to about 90 percent in the country and the money saved will be used to improve the agricultural sector to create employment opportunities for the youths and wealth creation in the country,” he said.
The President urged Plateau farmers to maintain the new tractors that will be distributed to them for their work in food production.
“This tractors can serve several generations if maintained by the farmers, but they can pack up within few years if they are not adequately maintained by those who are going to use them,” Buhari advised.
State Governor Simon Lalong said his administration expended N14,000,000 on the procurement of each of the tractors for onward distribution to farmers in the middlebelt state.
“The Farmers Cooperative Society identified the lack of modern farm tools as a major impediment towards productivity and returns on farmers income and improved livelihood.
“Thus in the year 2016, after negotiations between Hakar Engineering Ltd and PAFMCS, the State Government was approached and accepted to facilitate the Tractor Ownership Scheme to enable interested farmers of the State to own tractors for efficient and effective farming operations across the three geo-political zones of the State.
“Each tractor unit cost is Fourteen Million Naira (₦14,000,000.00) and administrative cost of ₦50,000.00. The scheme shall be jointly managed by the three parties especially in the Monitoring and Evaluation to ensure that milestones are achieved within time and budget.”
Lalong explained that “the funding scheme to support the farmers to achieve this economic goal is as follows: State government provided a 30% subsidy; the 17 LGCs 10%; Farmers Cooperative Society 10%; Hakar Engineering Ltd 25% and Bank loan 25% at single digit interest rate.”
He said the scheme, which is expected to last for 36 months from flag off and commencement, has enormous benefit to all the partners involved.
“The vendor Hakar Engineering Ltd has procured 400 units of tractors (Deutsch Fehr Model 70HP) as requested by the PAFMCS. The Farmers Cooperative would eventually become the owners of the Tractors.
“The State shall provide suitable locations that will serve as workshops one in each of the three geo-political zones of the State. The scheme will enlist and train 200 interested youth per LGC in basic farming skills for three years and empower them with tools and finance to embark on farming on successful completion of the training.”