Many state governments are not keying into the Federal Government’s drive for agricultural mechanisation thereby leaving majority of their farmers to use age-long hoes and cutlasses.
In Nigeria, agriculture is on the Concurrent List, just like health, education, road and housing.
A 2017 Agricultural Performance Survey for the wet season exposed most of the states that pay lip service to agriculture.
The national report was conducted by the National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS) of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, which is domiciled in the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria.
The report released to the public last week by the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Heineken Lokpobiri, for example, puts the number of tractors owned by 26 state governments in 2017 at 964.
“Data on tractor availability and functionality were collected from Agricultural Development Programmes (ADPs), state Ministries of Agriculture and relevant agencies nationwide. Data provided by 26 states and the FCT give the total number of functional government tractors in 2016 and 2017 as 908 and 964 respectively. Non-functional government-owned tractors in 2016 and 2017 were 539 and 524, a reduction of 2.78 per cent,” the national report indicated.
The report shows that among the 26 states, Plateau has 279 state-owned functional tractors, the highest, closely followed by Yobe with 228.
In Nasarawa State none of the state-owned 32 tractors has been functional since 2016, while Kebbi has seven tractors and Imo only two which are grounded. Similarly, Akwa-Ibom, Kwara, Oyo and Rivers have only one functional tractor each, while Abia and Ondo have two functional tractors each.
Katsina, which had only one functional tractor in 2016, increased the tally to five during the 2017 wet season.
Senior Special Adviser on Agriculture to the Governor of Katsina state, Dr. Abdullah Abba, stressed that the state government, towards the end of 2017-in December, distributed over 200 tractors to farmers, something he said the data did not capture.
In response, Dr. Lokpobiri said the tractors were not captured because it was done in December when data were already collected, adding that the study concentrated on the wet season.
Some experts have said availability of tractors to local farmers was the only way to scale up production, adding that the reason many youths were not interested in farming was because of the absence of farm machinery to do the job.
They believe that most state governments are not doing as expected to complement Federal Government’s effort in view of the fact that 90 per cent of agricultural activities are in the states