By Abba Gwale
The Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, on Tuesday, faulted the Federal Government’s plan to borrow 995m Euros for agricultural mechanization across the 774 local government councils in Nigeria.
In an interective session with the Committee, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohmmamed Sabo Nanono, said Nigeria was in deficit of 60,000 tractors, while 58 million hectares of arable land were not utilized.
Nanono, however said, 780 service centres had been set up across the country for mechanized farming and there was plan on ground to procure 20,000 tractors within the space of six years.
“All these plans of ours are geared towards food security in the country, the population of which will be 400 million in about 40 years from now,” the minister said.
He added that his ministry was in bilateral partnership with Brazil where 300 tractors are to be bought for the project this year once the loan is approved.
But the committee members questioned the move, saying beautiful plans are different from practical implementation.
Senator Adelere Oriolowo, an agricultural engineer, said based on his personal experience, the plans the minister tabled before the committee would not yield any positive results.
“The tractors you are planning to bring from Brazil will, in no distant time, run aground by people who are not trained for proper usage of such machines as it happened in Osun and Borno States recently,” he said.
The committee’s chairman, Clifford Ordia, directed the Director-General of Debt Management Office, Patience Oniha, to furnish the $1.5bn loan request for the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory for the execution of critical infrastructure against resurgence of COVID-19 pandemic.