In developed countries, mechanization has played a significant role in increasing the productivity of agriculture and it has also contributed largely to their economy. This is because agriculture is not only about domestic consumption but also generation of income for the economy via export earnings. Agriculture constitutes one of the most important sector in any nation’s economy. However, statistics has revealed that Nigeria is one of the least mechanized countries in the world. The rate of embracement of agricultural mechanization in Nigeria is still very low. A large proportion of farming area is being cultivated by simple tools, of which the rate of productivity resulting from this is minimal.
In the past, agriculture was noted to be a major stake in the Nigeria economy, according to a report by CBN (1991), agriculture contributed about 42% of Gross Domestic Product as against 13% for Oil & Gas. Nigeria was known to be a major exporter of some agricultural products such as cocoa, groundnut, palm produce etc. This further increased the Nation’s GDP to 60%. However, in the 1970’s the focus was shifted from agriculture to petroleum, the development of the agricultural sector was neglected and this led to a fall in the nation’s GDP to 20%.
The sector has suffered set back in terms of agricultural mechanization. Agricultural mechanization is the application of agricultural engineering principles, machines and technologies to agriculture practices, using mechanical systems, in food, fiber, fuel and fur processing, and also, in the production, processing, handling and storage of agricultural product.
Food security is a major concern for every nation. Food security according to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. This definition above highlights the criteria to satisfy that a nation is food secured, the criteria listed includes:
- Availability of food at all times in terms of the physical existence of food
- Accessibility by all in terms of income and resources to sufficient food
- Utilization that is; it meets the dietary needs of the people and,
- Stability in terms of constant supply
However, the only strategy Nigeria can employ to manage food insecurity and satisfy these criteria is to embrace agricultural mechanization. It is the only solution to sufficient agricultural production. Peasant farming is widely practiced in Nigeria and a higher percentage of the population largely depends on production from these peasant farmers who cultivate lands on a small scale with simple tools. In a report by CBN (1991), 95% of Nigerian farmers are peasant farmers who don’t have the resources to farm on a large scale and only 5% farmers operate on a large scale. They are also the major recipients of governments supports. Hence, the peasant farmers who are the major stakeholders in the production of food for the nation are unable to produce sufficiently and sustainably.
Notable impacts of mechanization in other countries – Case studies
Agricultural mechanization has been the major drive of development for developed countries such as United States of America, India etc.
India Rice Industry as a case study:
The India rice industry is also dominated by small holder farmers just like Nigeria with an average farm size of 1.33 hectares. However, they were also faced with low mechanization of 0.63hp/ha in the 1980s, overtime they shifted their gaze to the development and embracement of agricultural mechanization through the support of their government and private sectors as well. This helped them to achieve a mechanization rate of 1.96 hp/ha in 2005. This development rate was fastened by a rental strategy they employed which allows farmers to access machineries and an operator without purchasing it.
USA as a case study:
The adoption of agricultural machines also increased rice production in California from 0.25 million tonnes annually in the 1930s to 2million tonnes annually in the 1990s.
National Bureau of Statistics (NBS 2010/2011) survey showed that Nigeria’s mechanization has remained low at 0.3 hp/ha, relative to 2.6hp/ha in India and 8 hp/ha in China. The number of agricultural tractors is estimated around 22,000, relative to 1 million and 2.5 million in China and India respectively.
A survey was done on the sources used for farming activities in some Northern states in Nigeria and it was gathered that 7.5 million farmers used hoes to cultivate 1.0ha/farmer/yr and cultivated 7.5 million/ha annually with a total percentage of 86.0 area. 0.1 million farmers employed animal sources to cultivate 5.0ha/farmer/yr and cultivated 0.5 million/ha annually with a total percentage of 5.5 area. 0.015 million farmers used hoes to cultivate 50.0ha/farmer/yr and cultivated 0.75 million/ha annually with a total percentage of 8.5 area.
Source: Ajav (2000)
CONSTRAINTS OF FULL ADOPTION OF AGRICULTURAL MECHANISATION IN NIGERIA
- Low Income of farmers
- Limited access to affordable financing
- Lack of technical skills
- Low adoption of research findings and technologies
- Insufficient financing for research and technologies
- Outdated land tenure system
The assessment of the above problems and availability of improved farm inputs would further catapult the production level of Nigeria Agriculture.
By Akinboade Praise Lydia