President Muhammadu Buhari has approved N24.4 billion for phase one of the nation’s Smart Irrigation Scheme.The Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Prof. Mohammad Sani Haruna, disclosed this yesterday at the foundation laying of the Agricultural Machinery and Equipment Development Institute (AMEDI) in Obudu, Cross River State.According to him, as part of an all-year round bumper harvest plan, the federal government decided to establish six AMEDIs in each of the nation’s geopolitical zones.
He said the institutes (AMEDIs) would teach farmers not only mechanised farming, but also modern farming techniques.He said Nigeria had been collaborating with Czech Republic and Jordan on modern agriculture and manpower training on mechanised farming.He said: “The administration of President Buhari had laid foundation of ensuring multi-crops season farming programme in Nigeria by approving N24.4 billion for the Phase One of Smart Irrigation Scheme.
“The proliferation of mechanised farming is needed to meet the targeted bumper harvest all-year round which inform the need for local production of tools and equipment and hence approval for the six institutes nationwide.“One of the targets of implementing bilateral agreement between Nigeria and Czech Republic approved by President Buhari and managed by Presidential Implementation Committee hosted by NASENI is to make agriculture attractive to the youths by deploying mechanisation and technology.
“NASENI experts trained recently in Czech Republic and others in Jordan in modern agriculture are among the best Nigeria has ever produced in Agricultural Technology with capacity and know-how in the application of advances in Agricultural Technology especially green Agriculture.”
The NASENI boss said six agricultural institutes would be established in each of the nation’s geopolitical zones with those in Phase One sited in Lafia (Nasarawa State for the North-central); Mbutu –Mbaise (Imo State for the South-east; and Obudu (Cross River State for the South-south).He added: “Each of the six geo-political zones of Nigeria is allocated an AMEDI to meet the equipment need of the nation. Three out of these six agricultural equipment based institutes are being developed in phase one.
“These are AMEDI-Lafia, Nasarawa State for North Central; AMEDI Mbutu Mbaise, Imo State for South East, and Obudu in Cross River State for South-South. Lafia and Mbutu are expected to be commissioned in March 2023.
“The institutes are mandated to invent and produce tools, parts, systems and equipment and machinery for cultivation, plantation, weeding, harvesting, shelling, processing and preservation through backward integration and domestication of foreign technologies in Agriculture copied by well-trained staff of NASENI.
“AMEDI Obudu is one of the two selected by Jordanian Partners of NASENI for the pilot of all- inclusive modern agricultural food traceability project being implemented using IOT devices for global acceptability of Nigerian food and cash crops to enhance foreign exchange through export of agricultural products.“The AMEDIs will teach farmers not only mechanised farming but modern farming techniques using technology for enhanced yields per hectare of farm land for bumper harvest and profitability.”