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The Federal Government is set to introduce the Agricultural Implement and Mechanisation Scheme (AIMS) as a substitute to the Growth Enhancement Scheme (GES).

The Federal Government is planning to introduce the Agricultural Implement and Mechaniztion Scheme (AIMS) in place of the Growth Enhancement Scheme (GES). According to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Mr. Audu Ogbeh during the unveiling of the SMART model farm recently in Abuja.

The Growth Enhancement Scheme is a Federal Government agricultural program aimed at improving the agricultural sector by providing farmers with subsidized inputs. The program involves sharing of agricultural inputs cost among the Federal, State Governments and farmers in a 25:25:50 ratio whereby the Federal Government and State Governmments each pays 25% of the cost and the farmers pay the balance pf 50% of the cost.

According to the minister, the GES program is no longer sustainable owing to the failure of most state governments to comply with their 25 percent counterpart fund, this has resulted in the accumulation of debt to the Federal Government.

The minister stated that as a result, the government will introduce the AIMS programme, whose focus will be on Agricultural Mechanisation and Provision of Farm Implement based on Public Private Partnership (PPP) to assist commercial and smallholder farmers have access to hire or own tractors.

He explained that sophisticated tractors will be acquired from John Deere International, saying that the tractors are capable of working up to 15 hours.

Jason Brantley, managing director, John Deere Tractors Manufacturing Company, in his opening remarks said that the tractors have a very strong horse power and are designed to solve the problem of Nigerian farmers and increase the level of productivity in the nation’s agriculture sector, which will result in ensuring food security.

Also speaking, Mohammed Babandi, director, Federal Department of Agriculture in the Ministry, who was represented by Owolabi Olusegun, director-Agricultural Mechanization, disclosed that the minister has been working tirelessly in search of partners that will supply tractors to Nigerian farmers and this prompted the department to explore possible ways in both software and hardware in proffering solutions to myriad of problems facing Nigeria’s agriculture sector.

Danladi Garba, chairman, Association of Tractor Owners and Hiring Facility of Nigeria,(TOFAN) stated that his association has been assisting Nigerian farmers across the six geopolitical zones in cultivating and harvesting with the few tractors at their disposal, saying that his association is ready to partner on this new initiative.