Meet Garfar Lawal a colleague and friend of mine. During one of our many conversations in the office he was kind enough to volunteer to do a write-up on Farm Mechanization in Nigeria. Gafar graduated with a degree in Agriculture Engineering and since graduation has worked in the Agric sector. He is also an active member of the Agricultural Engineering Association. Below is his perspective.
Farm mechanisation is the process of developing agricultural machines and technology and substituting this machine power for human and animal power in agricultural production practices, greatly increasing farm worker productivity. Besides improving production efficiency, mechanization encourages large scale production and improves the quality of farm produce. On the other hand, it displaces unskilled farm labor, causes environmental pollution, deforestation and erosion.
‘A man with the hoe’ to a greater extent still remains the description of the Nigerian farmer today in spite of decades of significant investments made in the sector by the government and international agencies. Statistics also show that Nigeria is one of the least mechanised farming countries in the world, at 0.27 hp/hectare which is far below the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) recommendation of 1.5hp/hectare. With less than three tractors per thousand hectares, it is no wonder why Nigeria imports much of her food. It will not be far from the truth to describe the average Nigerian farmer as aged with limited or no education who practices outdated methods which is labour intensive with little or no use of mechanised tools. As a result the youths who should be the next generation of farmers perceive agriculture as a world of drudgery for losers and therefore shunned.
However we cannot ignore the changing landscape in the Agric sector. In the past few years we have seen a paradigm shift in the way agriculture is being perceived. It is no more looked at as a development tool but as a business enterprise with the potential to generate vast amounts money. This paradigm shift is encouraging the youths to view agriculture as a potential career path as opposed to viewing it as hard and boring energy consuming work with little or no returns.
The Agricultural Transformation Agenda recognises that for it to achieve any level of success farm mechanisation must play a fundamental role. The ATA identified provision of Mechanization Services as crucial to complement the implementation strategy of the various crops under the Agenda. The crops include Rice, Maize, cotton Soybean, Oilpalm, Cassava and many other value crops. The population of Nigeria is estimated at 160 million and by 2050 we would have the need to feed over 300 million people. It is of necessity therefore to attain self-sufficiency and keep pace with increase in population growth and consumption pattern of the teeming population through Agricultural Mechanization.
BENEFITS OF AGRICULTURAL MECHANISATION
- Mechanisation will boost the food production which will lead to exportation of the excess in the production so as to generate income for the country through foreign exchange earnings.
- Agricultural mechanisation had made the level of information dissemination to increase.
- Youth participation is encouraged in the field of agricultural extension and rural development due to incorporation of farm machine into agriculture
- Farmers are aided in improving marketing processes such as packaging, grading and standardizing commodities and reducing losses in marketing channels, ware housing and storage.
- Farm Mechanization encourages multiple cropping which was not possible under traditional farming.
- Reduction in drudgery.
- Greater area under cultivation.
There are a few disadvantages of farm mechanisation such as: being dangerous if not handled properly, initial cost of investment is quite high, some may argue that the tools are not environmental friendly. Nevertheless the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages.
In my own opinion, agricultural mechanisation will play a vital role in aggressively boosting food production , thereby giving room for employment and also making agriculture more attractive to the youths, who are the next generation of farmers.
Thanks for stopping by 🙂