Uche Usim, Abuja
A robust collaborative initiative between the Nigerian Incentive-based Risk Sharing for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) Plc, Machine and Equipment Corporation Africa (MECA), National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) and the World Bank/FADAMA III-AF Project to repair 55,000 grounded tractors nationwide, will save the Federal government a whopping N630 billion as buying new ones will gulp N660 billion.
The deal, which kicked off on Monday, commenced with the refurbishment of an initial 10,000 unserviceable tractors littered across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) at the cost of N30 billion, after which the 45,000 others will be fixed.
Speaking at the execution of partnership agreement between NIRSAL, MECA and World Bank/FADAMA III-AF Project in Abuja yesterday, the Managing Director of NIRSAL, Mr Abdulhameed Aliyu said that the entire programme empties into the Federal Government’s agriculture mechanization and food sufficiency agenda, since farmers will now have access to tractors at affordable hiring cost to till vast hectares of farmlands that cannot be cultivated under a subsistence farming practice.
He added that the deal was a significant step and part of the agency’s strategy as a risk management company working with key value chain players to ensure the adoption of sustainable productivity-enhancing technology and practices by our farmers.
He said: “One of our key challenge as a nation is how to ensure food security, feed a rising population whilst ensuring sustainable income for our smallholder farmers who constitute the largest portion of our farming populace.
“To understand the significance of this partnership, it is important to appreciate the context. According to World Bank data, Nigeria is in deficit of 10,000 – 15,000 tractors annually (for the next 10 years). As a consequence, the Nigerian farmer is beset by myriads of challenges which include: lack of access to affordable financing for the purchase of farm machines/tractors, the dearth of technical capacity to operate and manage the machines, lack of appropriate workshops facilities and tools for repairs of machines and tractors.
“Consistent with NIRSAL’s mandate of fixing the agricultural value chain to drive agribusiness competitiveness and attract sustainable financing, NIRSAL has developed the NIRSAL Comprehensive Agricultural Mechanisation Programme (N-CAMP). The N-CAMP seeks to revolutionise agricultural mechanization in Nigeria through increased access to agricultural land development and infrastructural equipment and tractors through a unique spread-out (yet affordable) payment system enabled by NIRSAL’s Credit Risk Guarantees.
“The N-CAMP has six modules: the Recovery, Repairs, Maintenance of Heavy-duty Agricultural Land and Infrastructure Development Equipment (RE-MAIN): This is geared towards heavy-duty equipment which will be refurbished (existing or broken-down) and operated on a “Rehabilitate/maintain, Operate and Transfer” (ROT) model”, Aliyu explained.
The NIRSAL boss added that FADAMA has one of the most organized farmer systems in the country, adding that NIRSAL will facilitate sustainability of the programme beyond the project by consolidating the existing farmer structure and cooperative system into our innovative Agricultural Geo-Coop collaboration arrangement, facilitating their access to financial services through various funding options available such as the NIRSAL Mfb, CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme and the MSMEDF as well as loans from Deposit Money Banks.
“Our approach in NIRSAL is to look at “agriculture” from an end to end value chain perspective i.e. from primary production activities (land clearing, Input supply, mechanization services, irrigation, harvesting, etc.); to storage; processing (using conventional/alternative energy sources) and an eventual linkage to markets (consumer, industrial and exports) and thus tailor our initiatives and interventions as such.
“With the planned winding-down of the FADAMA programme by end of 2019, one key assurance NIRSAL is pledging today is that we would continue to support FFCA members beyond the provision of mechanization services. NIRSAL will deploy its resources to ensure continuity in the support, development, and growth of agricultural activities catalysed under the FADAMA programme”, he noted.
Earlier in her remarks, the representative of the Agriculture Minister, Dr Maimuna Habib said the Buhari administration’s Green Revolution Programme has established 19 Agricultural Equipment Hiring Enterprise centre (AEHEs) in 14 states equipped with 56 tractors and implements.
This, she said, was to complement the Federal government’s effort of reducing manual labour and drudgery associated rural agriculture through mechanisation.
She said: “The AEHE is to be managed and operated by the Federated Fadama Community Association (FFCA). The FFCA was created with the aim of sustaining the investment of the Project and are expected to provide guidance to the continuous operation of the Fadama Groups long after the Project Closure “The project has mobilized, organized, registered and supported over 263,795 farmers in 3,675 production clusters made up of 25,610 production groups. These farmers have benefited from various capacity building/technical assistance support to enhance their social capital formation, group dynamics, contract negotiation, bookkeeping, adoption of best agronomic practices and profitable management of their agribusiness and were also supported to increase the production and productivity of Four value chain crops of cassava, rice, sorghum and tomato.
“So far, this effort yielded enormous gains for the farmers and the project. The World Bank at Its 10th Implementation support mission of the Project conducted in December 2018 rated the overall performance as satisfactory with disbursement of 92.5%. The nominal income of beneficiaries has Increased by 373% as well as the yield of the supported value chains Increased by 535% based on administrative records.
“Also, as part of the project achievement, a total of 197,051 hectares has been cultivated across the participating states. As a result, beneficiaries were able to produce 841,053 tonnes of cassava, 1,497,3653 tonnes of rice, 184,9783 tonnes of Sorghum and 1,163184.8 tonnes of Tomato. The AEHE has contributed to the aforementioned achievements across the participating states and it was carried out through the matching grant arrangement of 65:35 for the assets (the Project provide 65% cost of the asset as grant and FFCA provides the 35% balance as beneficiary production). The Project also bears the cost of construction of the AEHE workshop/housing (100%) for the tractors and implements from the State counterpart fund.
“However, due to the inability of the FFCAs to raise the 35% Beneficiary Contribution (BC), Fadama granted a waiver for the 35% BC to be recovered after procurement in three instalments from the FFCAs,” she stated.
Also speaking at the event, the Group Country Director of MECA, Mr Illiyah Gashinbaki said the company has started a reverse engineering programme to convert scrap tractors to new ones.
“So, we’ve recovered all broken down tractors so that we can put them back to use. We’ve gone around 14 states. We need N30 billion for 10,000 in phase one at an average of N3 million per tractor.
“We’ve 55,000 that would have to be recovered. If you’re to buy new ones, it’ll cost N660bn but N30 billion can solve that problem.
“We identified that the challenge of having many disused tractors is actually an African thing. We have problem with Buy Use Spoil and Throw away (BUST).
“We’re addressing this issue and tackling it headlong,” he noted.