According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Nigeria’s agricultural sector contributed 22.35% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) between January and March 2021. With over 70% of Nigeria’s population engaged in agriculture, the industry is easily the most important to the country’s growth.
However, industry players point to a number of problems that continue to obstruct the sector's optimization. The issue of mechanised farming and how rising farm equipment costs are preventing many smallholder farmers from contributing to Nigeria's agricultural output is one of the most pressing.
It is against this background that C. Woermann Nigeria, in partnership with STIHL Germany, is carrying out capacity development initiatives to expose smallholder farmers' to affordable mechanisation that can help reduce the cost of running agricultural operations.
Speaking at a training session that took place at IITA Ibadan today, Mr Klaus Okunowski, MD of C Woermann Nigeria, said that the company recognises why farmers in Nigeria urgently need support to help them move from subsistence agriculture to modern methods that will improve productivity and business growth.
“With equipment like the STIHL 230 range of tillers, earth augers, brush cutters, etc., farmers can save costs that would have gone towards engaging farm labour or replacing multiple equipment parts. Farmers will also have more time to devote to productive activities, apart from cost savings. Mr Okunowski added. He applauded STIHL and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) for supporting C Woermann.
Also speaking, Mr Debo Akande, Head of Agribusiness and Mechanisation at IITA Ibadan, said, “Science and data have shown us that mechanisation is the future of agriculture and the best way to increase adoption of farming technology is through the provision of affordable mechanisation solutions.” The expert, who is also the Governor of Oyo State's Executive Adviser on Agribusiness, stressed the need for capacity-building programs to support the sector's growth.
Mrs Ogunleye Modupe, an agropreneur and participant at the event, agreed, saying that trainings like this have the ability to open smallholder farmers' eyes to crucial lessons that might help them enhance their overall agricultural output. “I believe the government should partner with the private sector to train farmers on affordable mechanisation to improve yield,” she added.
The event was rounded off with a dinner with all participants at a restaurant in Iyaganku GRA in Ibadan.