Mechanization is a multi-dimensional concept and widely used in agriculture. There is, however, a major difference between the application of mechanization in developed and developing countries.
The developing countries tend to design their own strategies in food security given the challenges they face in all aspects of their economy including feeding a growing population, reducing poverty, protecting the environment, managing the effects of climate change and fighting malnutrition all which may further contribute to a reduction in economic growth and political instability.
However, you cannot talk about Economic diversification or food security in Nigeria without Agricultural mechanization. Considering the necessity of identifying and responding to the current and future challenges of food security, we advocate providing strategies to promote the role of agricultural mechanization in agricultural development as a solution to the achievement of food security and sustainable economic growth in Nigeria through economic diversification into Agriculture.
Any attempt to increase agricultural production without considering a proper mechanization strategy would never have a positive outcome. A sustainable agricultural mechanization strategy is a planning strategy that contributes to the goal of sustainable agriculture, and at the same time accepts food self-sufficiency and generates economic and inclusive growth as well as social benefits.
Mechanization is a crucial input for agricultural production and one that historically has been neglected in the context of developing countries. Factors that reduce the availability of farm power compromise the ability to cultivate sufficient land and have long been recognized as a source of poverty, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and Nigeria in particular.
Increasing the power supply to agriculture means that more tasks can be completed at the right time and greater areas can be farmed to produce greater quantities of crops while conserving natural resources. Applying new technologies that are environmentally friendly enables farmers to produce crops more efficiently by using less power.
Sustainable agricultural mechanization can also contribute significantly to the development of value chains and food systems as it has the potential to render postharvest, processing and marketing activities and functions more efficient, effective and environmentally friendly.
The need for systematic deployment of agricultural mechanization and agro-industrial policies that will reduce food wastages and enhance agro productivity is vital in Nigeria’s quest of self-sufficiency, an expert says.
Joshua Olarewaju Olaoye, professor of Farm Power and Machinery of the department of Agricultural and Bio-systems Engineering, University of Ilorin, stated this while delivering a paper at the institution’s 187th inaugural lecture.
Olaoye, who pointed out that Nigeria needs National Agricultural Mechanization and Agro-Industrial Development Policy, enjoined the government to deploy all necessary political will and commitment to implement already documented food security programmes to the letter.
According to him, mechanization covers all levels of farming and processing technologies from simple and basic hand tools to more sophisticated and motorized equipment and improves productivity and timeliness of agricultural operations as well as improves the efficient use of resources among other advantages.
Increasing levels of mechanization do not necessarily mean big investments in tractors and other machinery. Farmers need to choose the most appropriate power source for any operation depending on the work to be done and on who is performing it. The level of mechanization should meet their needs effectively and efficiently.
The reduction of drudgery is a key element of sustainable mechanization and contributes to reducing women’s hard workload by taking into consideration technologies apt to their needs and improving their access to appropriate forms of farm power.
Sustainable mechanization can among others:
Increase land productivity by facilitating timeliness and quality of cultivation;
Support opportunities that relieve the burden of labour shortages and enable households to withstand shocks better;
Decrease the environmental footprint of agriculture when combined with adequate conservation agriculture practices; and
Improve Economic growth, Reduce poverty and achieve food security while improving people’s livelihoods.
I conclude by saying that, the Nigerian government should emulate other nations of the world in having the political will to implement strategic policies and programs that will change the face of the economy like the case of Iran, being the second-largest country in the Middle East, both in terms of size and population.
A quarter of Iran’s population lives in rural areas. And 21.2% of the total working population of the country is employed in the agricultural sector because an agency is managing her business of agriculture. Despite having oil revenues, agriculture plays an important role in the economy of Iran.
In Rwanda, the bank attributed 45 per cent of the country’s rapid poverty reduction to the growth of the agriculture sector and associated industries and services. India on the other hand has been one of the most productive countries when it comes to agricultural products.
Rural India has shown a significance and steady increase in farming development to produce comparatively higher amount to meet the demand of rising nationalism as a result of political will to implement stringent government policies that brought changes in the nations socio-economic development which has placed the country in the confederation of the leading exporter of Agro-Allied products in the world.
The role of Agricultural business is unquestionable in carrying out the strategic approach in eradicating poverty and hunger, industrialization as well, with the expected impact on investment, job creation and sustainable opportunities for shared prosperity.
Agricultural business is, and remain undoubtedly, the engine of growth and economic diversification in Nigeria with Mechanization. Any investment in Nigeria in this direction will be profitable as the nation diversifies its economy into Agriculture.