Governor Abubakar Bello of Niger State on Tuesday said that the state government had procured 130 tractors and accessories worth N2.2 billion, to boost agricultural mechanisation ahead of the 2018 farming season.
Mr Bello made this known while inaugurating the 2018 farming season, fertiliser sales and distribution of tractors in Minna.
He said the measure would ensure food security in the state and the nation at large.
“The state government in its deliberate efforts toward boosting agricultural mechanisation activities has procured 130 tractors valued at N2.2 billion,’’ he said.
The governor said the equipment would be distributed to genuine farmers at 25 per cent subsidy.
Mr Bello said the state government would soon take delivery of another set of 100 tractors through the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) programme.
He said the state government had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Machine Equipment Consortium Africa (MECA) and Tractor Owners and Operators Association of Nigeria (TOOAN) to manage the tractors until full payments were made by beneficiaries.
The governor said government had also procured 50 rice threshers for free distribution to farmers’ cooperative societies and unions to reduce post-harvest loss in rice production.
“We need to encourage all-season farming.
“To this end, we are intensifying partnership with some Chinese firms to utilise the 17 existing irrigation sites in the state, while developing new ones,’’ he said.
Mr Bello said government had also collaborated with Tak Fertliser Company, to secure 15,000 metric tonnes of NPK 20:10:10 fertilisers for the 25 local government areas in the state.
He, however, warned that the fertilisers must be sold at government-approved price of N5, 500 per bag, noting that anybody caught selling above this price would face the law.
Earlier, Haruna Dukku, the state Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said government was determined to achieve self-sufficiency in food production and employment generation.
Shehu Galadima, Chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in the state, commended the state government for the gesture and promised that farmers would put the tractors into good use.