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Agriculture

10 Ways Improving Farm Mechanization In Nigeria

Farm mechanization which is the application of machine power to perform various agricultural activities is very important in our modern world.

It is the change from the use of human or animal power to do farm work into the use of machines to carry out all kinds of agricultural activities.


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Farm mechanization involves the manufacture, distribution, operation and maintenance of all types of farm tools, machines, equipment and implements.

Read Also: 10 Best Business Opportunities In The Agricultural Sector In Nigeria

10 Ways Improving Farm Mechanization In Nigeria
Farm Mechanization In Nigeria – Photo Source: https://www.agrobusinessngr.com

Some of the aims of farm mechanization are to eliminate the tiresome and stressful nature of farm work (drudgery) and to increase the output, yield of farm produce.

Farm mechanization has been adopted in Nigeria as there are some big farms in Nigeria that use big and sophisticated machines to carry out most of their farming operations.

But in spite of the fact that mechanization has been adopted, the country is still facing problems experienced by a community which is not using agricultural mechanization.

This is because even though a large percentage of the population is involved in agriculture (about over 70%), only few of them have access to modern farm machines and technology.

The larger percentage of the farming population are still using primitive methods to perform their farming operations.

This has led to low yields implying that the amount of goods produced is not enough to meet the needs of the teaming population of Nigeria.

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This would not have been a problem because in the advanced countries of the world, about less than 10% of their population are involved in agriculture and yet they are not only able to produce enough for their country but also have excess for export.

But this is not the case in Nigeria because even the few that have adopted agricultural mechanization have not been able to produce enough to meet the need of the Nigerian populace not to talk of exporting to other countries.

An example of this is the importation of rice in spite of the presence of rice farms in Nigeria. Hence the need for the improvement of farm mechanization.

In this article, we will be looking at 10 possible ways to improve farm mechanization in Nigeria so she will be able to meet all the basic needs of her citizens.

Read Also: How To Start An Agricultural Training Workshop In Nigeria

Ways of improving farm mechanization in Nigeria

Since farm mechanization is the change from the use of human or animal power to the use of machines to carry out farming activities, improvement of farm mechanization in Nigeria can only be discussed along this line.

Before I go into the ways by which farm mechanization can be improved, it is important for one to state that the change from the use of human and animal power to machine power is a gradual process. It cannot be rushed.

The improvement will not happen overnight. But with consistency in applying the methods explained below, Nigeria will experience the situation of improving agriculture through farm mechanization. The following are the ways by farm mechanization can be improved in the country:

1. Establishment and support of agricultural extension services to enlighten farmers to adopt farm mechanization. 1

2. Provision of credit facilities which is easily accessible to farmers buy farm machines. 1

3. Increasing the number of farm machines available to farmers. 1

4. Development of inexpensive locally made machines. 1

5. Training of farm machinery personnel 1

6. Establishment of local farm machine factories/workshops. 1

7. Construction of good transportation networks. 1.

8. Funding of farm machinery research projects. 1

9. Encouragement of the private sector to partner with the government to improve farm mechanization. 1

10. Use of renewable energy. 1

Establishment and support of agricultural extension services to enlighten farmers to adopt farm mechanization

Agricultural extension services should be established to enlighten farmers on the need to use farm machines for all their farming activities to increase their productivity.

It is true Nigeria has some agricultural extension services established by the Federal Governments, State Governments, international agricultural organizations and some tertiary institutions but it seems that their services does not cover the introduction and adoption of new machines by farmers.

Therefore the government at all levels should establish extension services whose major focus should be the introduction of new machines that are easily adaptable to the environment of the farmers concerned.

Also the activities of these agricultural extension services should include teaching the farmers how to operate the farm machines and implements, how to maintain these equipment so as to ensure their prolonged use.

The agricultural extension agents will also serve as liaison officers between the farmers and the organization producing these machines. Let me explain.

By serving as liaison agents, agricultural extension agents will relay any feedback from the farmers to the organization producing the farm machines while they are teaching farmers how to adopt the use of the new farm machines introduced to them.

The feedback could be the challenges faced by the farmers in the operation and maintenance of these machines. The agricultural extension worker would then relay these challenges to the organization producing these machines so that their engineers will work on tackling these challenges.

Once the farmers realize that there is a communication channel established by the agricultural extension services through which they can express their thoughts to the industries involved in the production of farm machines, they will be encouraged to use the farm machines introduced to them. This will improve farm mechanization in Nigeria

Read Also: How To Start Agricultural Machinery Business in Nigeria

Provision of credit facilities which is easily accessible to farmers buy farm machines

One of the problems of farm mechanization in Nigeria is the inability of farmers to purchase farm machines as a result of their low income.

Most of these farm machines and implements are very expensive for the average farmer to purchase and maintain. At the time of this writing, the dollar to naira exchange which is 360 naira to the dollar in the parallel market has only worsened the situation as this has skyrocketed the prices of farm machines and implements.

To tackle this problem, past governments have created credit facilities with the help of banks and other financial institutions to disburse loans to farmers.

But all these previous arrangements have a common issue which is the bureaucratic bottleneck involved in obtaining these loans to purchase farm machines.

The attitude of the few farmers that were able to obtain these loans did not help either as they used the loan for expenses not related to agriculture.

This did not encourage the financial institutions to give credit to the farmers. One way to solve this problem which is still a part of the solution mentioned in the last heading which is the use of a registered agricultural extension agent who will serve as a witness during the process of obtaining the loan.

Another person should serve as a guarantor who will stand in for the farmer and also monitor the farmer to ensure that the money is spent on purchasing the machine needed.

Also, unnecessary bureaucratic bottlenecks should be removed in the process of obtaining the requested loan. The process of obtaining loans to purchase farm machines should be made to be very simple and quick.

Again a mechanism should be put in place to monitor the farmers accessing credit facilities to ensure that the loans are actually used for the reasons they were requested for which is the purchase of farm machineries in this case.

Increasing the number of farm machines available to farmers

The number of farm machines and implements in Nigeria is too small. According to a report titled โ€œBoosting food security through mechanization, the way forward for Nigeriaโ€ written five years ago by Jimoh Babatunde of vanguardngr.com the country then had a total about of 40000 tractors.

This was not enough to serve the nation. In the past, the Federal and state governments have purchased some tractors and other implements and sold them to public agro-centers and some farmerโ€™s associations but it has been very difficult to access them.

There have been reported cases of queening at these agrio-centers just to make use of a tractor because the number of tractors is not enough to go round.

The government should purchase more tractorsย ย  and other farm machines. But to ensure even distribution of farm machines and implements, the Federal and State governments should look for a way to know the number of the farming population under their jurisdiction.

This can be done through the help of tertiary institutions related to agriculture who can help the government to obtain data.

This will help the government to determine the number of farm machines to be purchased and distributed to the farming population at a particular time.

Development of inexpensive locally made machines

Another way to improve farm mechanization in Nigeria is to encourage the local production of some of this agricultural machines and equipment with their raw materials sourced locally.

Nigeria has been known to be endowed with a lot of natural resources containing some of the raw materials that form the parts of these farm machines.

For instance iron and carbon which combine together to form steel which is processed to form the major components of all farm machines is present in commercial quantities in Kogi state and some other parts of the country.

This means that the local fabrication of some farm machines is possible in Nigeria if a conducive environment is created for it to take place.

Therefore the local construction of inexpensive farm machines should take place so that they will be sold at a price which is affordable to the farmer.

If farmers can easily purchase locally made but highly efficient machines that will help their farming operations, there will be no need to go for expensive foreign ones which are not suitable for their environment.

It will be easy for them to adopt farm mechanization and their productivity will increase. Also research should be conducted on some types of hand operated but mechanically powered machines which even though they are mainly operated by hand, their output will exceed that of human and animal power.

They should be developed in such a way that they can be easily maintained and repaired. This will encourage farmers to purchase and use them.

Read Also: Problems of Agricultural Marketing in Nigeria

Training of farm machinery personnel

Farm machines will not construct themselves. A human must design and another person bring the design into reality by constructing what has been drawn on paper.

So more people should be trained in the design, construction, maintenance and repairs of farm machines. Presently there are some institutions involved in the training and grooming of professionals involved in the construction and maintenance of farm machines.

These institutions should be supported financially and materially. Again more people should be encouraged to go for these trainings.

It is obvious that Nigeria needs more farm machinery personnel that will be able to attend to the challenges faced by farmers in the use of their machines.

The training should also aim to produce personnel that can design machines suitable to the environment of the farmers and also provide the solutions to the problems they are facing on their farms.

When farmers see that the farm machinery personnel are well trained, their confidence will be increased in the personnel and their products.

This increased confidence will lead to the widespread use of the machines developed by the personnel which in turn will lead to improving farm mechanization in Nigeria.

Establishment of local farm machine factories/workshops.

A conducive environment should be created for the establishment of local industries, mechanical workshops and factories involved in the local production of machines and implements.

This will further promote the development of locally made machines and implements. More so, the establishment of local industries, mechanical workshops and factories will provide employment opportunities for the farm machinery professionals.

The local production of farm machines by these organizations will increase the number machines available to the farmers in Nigeria as they will be easily accessible and sold at an affordable price.

When farmers can easily purchase a machines at a local factory at an affordable price, they will be encouraged to use more machines. Their use of the locally made farm machine will mean an improvement of farm mechanization in Nigeria.

Construction of good transportation networks

To enable easy transfer of farm machines from the local factory or workshop to the market and from the market to the farmers, good modes of transportation should be developed in the country.

Nigeria has all the modes of transportation present. These modes of transportation should be fully harnessed to aid the free movement of farm machines from their point of production to their location of purchase.

Road transportation is the most population means of movement of goods and people. So, major roads linking machine factories to the farms should be constructed and existing ones rehabilitated to ensure the free movement of farm machines from the factory to the farm.

Also good farm roads that link farm machines from the farms to the shed should be constructed to enable the free movement of heavy farm machines from the farm to the shed where they are kept and maintained.

This will prevent the unnecessary breakdown of farm machinery. Apart from road transportation, other means of transportation like the railway, waterways should be explored and developed.

The transportation of farm machines should not be limited to the movement by road only. This is because there are some farm machines which can be conveniently conveyed to their destination using the other modes of transportation other than road.

For example, the fishing boat with the fishing gear are best transported by sea. Improvement in farm mechanization will be rapid when there are good transportation channels as farm machines will arrive at their destinations at the desired time.

Funding of farm machinery research projects.

Project related to farm machinery and implements should be backed up by funding. But it is a pity that most research institutions in Nigeria are complaining of lack of funds.

The government at various levels should show a strong political will to support projects related to the development of farm machines by releasing enough funds to research and tertiary institutions involved in the development of farm machines that are suitable to the environment of the farmers.

Also more research institutions that are biased towards the development and construction of farm machines should be established.

These institutions should also be supported by the government in cash and kind. If the research institutions are supported, more farm machines will be produced.

With the help of agricultural extension agents, these machines will be adopted by the farmers. This will lead to the improvement of farm mechanization in Nigeria.

Encouragement of the private sector to partner with the government to improve farm mechanization

The improvement of farm mechanization in Nigeria is not the work of the government alone. The private sector must be involved also.

Therefore private organizations, wealthy industrialists should be encouraged to partner with the government to try to improve farm mechanization in Nigeria.

The partnership of the private sector should involve funding of research projects, investment in farm power and machinery and also making donations to the departments of Agricultural Engineering of tertiary institutions to ensure their smooth running operation.

Also their partnership could extend to helping farmers to purchase farm machines and implements needed to make their farming operations more effective.

Research institutions could also reach out to the private sector when they are about to carry out a research project that involves farm mechanization.

In reaching out to private organizations, they should explain to these institutions the benefits they stand to gain from the completion of their projects.

Read Also: 15 New Innovations To Boost Agriculture In Nigeria

Use of renewable energy

For farm mechanization to thrive, the issue of energy cannot be overlooked. The challenge of energy is another problem facing the adoption of the use of farm machines for agricultural activities.

One major problem experienced in Nigeria is the erratic power supply experienced in most parts of the country. This has led to the shutdown of most agro-processing industries which need a lot of energy to operate their processing equipment.

Let us realize that the use of machines to process farm products is also part of farm mechanization. It is time for most farms to think of how they can generate their own power not depending on the national grid.

They should think of employing renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind and hydro power if possible. Another problem related to this is the use of conventional fuel to power farm machines like the tractor and combined harvester.

Research is being conducted to migrate from the use of fossil fuel like kerosene, diesel to power farm machines to the use of environmental friendly but renewable sources of energy such as compressed air.

Nigeria cannot afford to be left out. If farms in Nigeria can generate their own source of electricity without depending on the national grid but using their own renewable source of energy, then it will experience a great improvement in farm mechanization.

Conclusion

The improvement of farm mechanization in Nigeria is very important. The primitive farming method still employed by the large farming population of Nigeria is not enough to meet the needs of the large population of the country.

The modern techniques involved in the adoption of the use of farm machines will not only help the country in improving agriculture, it will also boost the economy of the country.

Improvement of agriculture through mechanization will bring Nigeria great respect in the committee of nations. Therefore all hands must be on deck to ensure that farm mechanization is improved in this country.

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Ibukun Soyoye

Ibukun is an Agricultural Engineer and a Content Developer at InfoGuideNIgeria.com. InfoGuide Nigeria is a team of Resource Persons and Consultants led by Ifiokobong Ibanga. Page maintained by Ifiokobong Ibanga. If you need a personal assistance on this topic, kindly contact us.

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