The Federal Government of Nigeria on Tuesday unveiled the successful bid winners for the 80 agricultural equipment hiring centres to be deployed to the 29 states across the country.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, who put the average cost of each of the AEHE centre at N35 million, said the government also facilitated credit facilities for the successful bidders at seven per cent interest rate.
Speaking at a stakeholders meeting with the bidders in Abuja, Dr. Adesina said that the centres would provide affordable mechanized services to farmers in Nigeria.
He said: “I wish to state that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has facilitated the access of each of these service operators to a credit facility of N26m each
“This is to demonstrate the seriousness with which we take this programme. Each of the private sector service operators will only need to provide 20 per cent of the cost as equity, while the balance will be spread over 48 months with seven per cent interest and two years moratorium.”
President Goodluck Jonathan had last year approved the inauguration of the Agricultural Equipment Mechanisation Enterprises, which were private sector driven service providers.
Their operations include leasing/hiring out of various types of agricultural equipment for land preparation, harvesting and post harvest operations, repair and maintenance of such equipment.
The government approved N50 billion Agricultural Mechanisation Fund and stated that in the next three years, a total of 1,200 agricultural equipment-hiring enterprises will be established.
Adesina said: “Under the programme, at least 6,000 units of tractors and power tillers, and 13,000 units of various harvest and post-harvest equipment will be deployed across the country between now and next year.
“The programme has already started through the release of N4.5 billion to the Bank of Agriculture (BoA), to support the establishment of 80 agricultural equipment hiring enterprises.”
Adesina further noted that Nigeria’s food import bill had declined from N1.1tn in 2009 to N684.7 billion by December 2013, adding that the decline continued in 2014.
He said: “Despite the devaluation of the naira and the massive decline in the price of crude oil, food prices have been relatively stable due to increased domestic food production”. (NAN)