By Jimoh Babatunde
Managing Director, Springfield Agro, Tarun Kumar Das, has reiterated the need for mechanisation of agriculture in the country for it to be able to attract the younger generation.
Farmers cultivating cassava. AGRA is working to improve the lots of cassava farmers in Africa.
Speaking at a media roundtable in Lagos, he said it is still surprising that 50 per cent of farming in the country is still cultivated with hands and hoes, “that is labour-driven agriculture, and this is what our children don’t like about it.”
He said technology in agriculture is not difficult as have been seen in the last few years with the growth of mobile density in the country.
“I want to say Nigeria does not have more than 29 per cent total tractor population; at the most, 3,000 tractors are coming in. We need to get a minimum of 10,000 tractors into the country for agriculture to achieve some level of mechanisation.”
He added: “Most of the state governments are really trying with lots of initiatives taken, but there has been a shift in the last few years by the states and Federal Government that used to buy tractors for farmers at subsidised rates and sometimes free.
“Most of those farmers were not real farmers, but now there is a huge change as farmers try to get financing from the banks and they are buying the tractors now as owners and this will lead to sustainability.”
Kumar Das said: “Springfield Agro and Mahindra have established a strong presence in Nigeria over the last decade to provide solutions in the agriculture and farming space.
“We have recently commissioned a Mahindra tractor assembly plant in Kaduna State, with a manufacturing capacity of 5,000 tractors and associated agricultural implements.
According to him, the plant can produce various ranges of tractors from 25Hp to 80Hp to cater to a wide spectrum of customer needs.
He said to make tractors accessible to farmers, they have brought in the financial institutions to work with the farmers’ group.
“It was difficult for a farmer to go to a bank and come out with a cheque. We convinced the banks and they are now responding. The other problem is that of risk, we got the Central Bank to share the risk. We are trying to get those technology support from Mahindra to provide and make life meaningful for farmers in Nigeria
“Farmers need agricultural inputs, seeds, fertiliser, mechanical support or preparation of land, or harvesting or even market for their produce.”
He added that throughout the entire value chain, “we are getting Mahindra’s support. We are creating support through one stop shop in all the local government areaa for farmers to get the support.
Also speaking at the media roundtable, Chief of International Operations, Mahindra & Mahindra Limited, Arvind Matthew, said: “Nigeria is among the largest markets and economies on the African continent and presents very strong growth prospects.
“We have been working steadfastly with our channel partners to ensure that we deliver innovative solutions to meet the needs of the community here.”
He added that the Farm-To-Folk initiative is one such solution that empowers farmers from every region and capacity, driving farm-tech prosperity.
“We will continue to up the ante on technology and innovation to offer solutions in Nigeria that will drive positive change,” Matthew added.