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Governor Ododo refurbished 200 abandoned tractors, saved N20 billion

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Kogi State Governor, Ahmed Usman Ododo has said his administration saved the state government over 20 billion Naira by recovering and refurbishing almost to brand new status in physical condition and mechanical performance of about 200 tractors deployed for the 2024 wet season farming in the state.

This was revealed in an exclusive interview with Babajide Kolade Otitoju aired on TVC News over the weekend, Special Adviser to the Governor on Media, Ismaila Isah disclosed in a statement.

The Governor who was asked about the ground-breaking initiative to recover and refurbish tractors that were already out of use stated that he was compelled by the prevailing economic situation to evolve innovative approach by putting together a team of engineers to revitalize disused tractors which were procured by his predecessor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello and given to farmers who left them abandoned in different farm settlements within and outside the state.

The Governor said he set out to recover and put the tractors back to use by spending far less than what it would have cost the state government to procure new tractors for the farming season given the timing and the extra cost implications due to foreign exchange instability and logistics of importation.

The Governor disclosed that it would cost the state government well over 70 Million Naira, if it were to procure a brand new tractor with complete accessories, adding that the figure could be well over 20 Billion for about 200 tractors that were refurbished by the team of engineers working at a workshop in the premises of the Kogi State Agricultural Development Project (ADP) in Lokoja.

According to Governor Ododo: “spending billions of Naira, passing through the procurement processes, shipment and clearing would have been difficult. But we had over 250 tractors procured by the last administration but it was not well utilized by the same indigenes of our dear state. These are public property.

“So far, we have spent over 2 Billion Naira in bringing up to 140 tractors back to life. If we were to buy 140 tractors or more, …I think we should be talking about tens of billions of Naira and not minding the time it will take you to ship, to clear, and we don’t have time to wait for all that. We are eager to give back to our people. So it’s working and the farmers can attest to that, the good people of Kogi State can attest to that. You can go to the workshop to see what we are doing because governance is all about cutting down cost for you to be able to serve your people”.

Governor Ododo whose interest in agriculture is already rejuvenating the agricultural value chain in the state with the unprecedented amount of incentives provided for farmers in the state disclosed in the interview that his administration has invested over 7 Billion Naira in providing farm implements, seedlings and other essential supplies for nearly 10,000 farmers in 76 farm clusters across the 21 local government areas in the state.

“We have invested 7.5 billion Naira and we are ready to invest more on the farmers so that they will be able to go into full-fledged farming. It’s a plan. We are unveiling it gradually because everyone can’t be on government payroll. We must all contribute, join hands together to develop our state so that Kogi State can be a good example for other states to learn from. Very soon, you will see what Kogi State will do in terms of agriculture. We will not only feed ourselves, we will feed other states and possibly export our agricultural produce”, the Governor said.

Governor Ododo further stated that the team of engineers have also trained many young people in the state as operators and service engineers deployed along with the tractors to all the 76 farm clusters where they are also expected to take up hectares of farmland and take part in farming under the One Farmer, One Hectare programme of the present administration in the state.

The Governor said the investment in agriculture by the state government will be sustained, assuring that all that needs to be provided will be in place including security and possible expansion to over 50,000 hectares in the next farming season to boost agricultural production and guarantee food security through all-year round farming in the state.

Speaking on the comparative advantage of the state in agriculture, Governor Ododo noted that Kogi state has the capacity to become the next food basket of Nigeria with its advantages in cultivation of tubers like yam and cassava and grains such as rice and maize as well as vegetables with over 70 per cent of its land area being arable and the abundance of water bodies in Rivers Niger and Benue as well as the energy and enterprise of its youthful population which is now encouraged by the government to invest in agriculture.

The Governor noted that the only way Nigeria can beat the current inflationary trend induced by prevailing hike in food prices is a return to massive investment in agriculture under the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, stressing that an aggressive campaign is required to encourage more Nigerians to embrace farming as a means of subsistence and to support the economic recovery of families in the country.

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