By Matthew Denis
No fewer than 120 commercial farmers across Kwara State have benefited an agricultural mechanisation initiative.
The initiative, which was organised by Kwara Agro Mall recently, was a roundabout discussion on alternative arrangement for acquiring agricultural equipment and machinery through private sector driven intervention.
The coordinator of the mall, Temitope Amujo explained that, “the initiative is necessary because the state government last November embarked on field farm visitation, registration and verification in order to know the problems of farmers.
“One of the problems observed was that most of our farmers don’t have access to agricultural mechanisation despite their interest to expand productivity.
” We also discovered that they don’t have the money to purchase these equipment, that is why we are holding this initiative to create alternative ways for farmers to own and operate these farming mechineries. Like getting people that will supply these tractors or giving them money to payback instalmentally.
“This is why we brought the Bank of Industry (BoI), tractors owners association, Marsey Ferguson, TOHFAN, National Centre for Agriculture Mechanisation and other stakeholders to dialogue with the farmers.
Amujo stressed that the need for farmers to increase their productivity through integrated mechanisation in order to spend less money on the same hectares of land and to harvest larger quantity.
“We also want to encourage commercial agriculture to increase food security and eradicate poverty in the state by ensuring its availability and affordability to the people.
In his remarks, the representative of Bank of Industry, Kabiru Abdulkarim said the financial institution has been funding agriculture as part of its effort at intensifying industrialisation in the country.
“Recently we launched a new programme called the Agric mechanization fund mainly for interested people who want to bring in Agric equipment such as tractors, harvesters, planters and related tools which farmers might not be able to afford for their farming activities.
“The programme is mainly to assist clusters of farmers, individuals acquire the equipment at subsidised rate to as to expand their commercial farms for maximum production.
Abdulkarim explained that the bank go nto partnership by providing the funds while the tractor suppliers provide the equipment, training and supervision of farmers.
He noted that most farmers lose their crops as a result of poor storage and preservation mechanism, adding that the bank will help them in improving their storage facilities through funding for processing.
Some of the farmers who spoke to Pilot Business, expressed appreciation to the state government for the initiative aimed at enhancing agric productivity.